Heavy and Weird – Anniversaries – 1987 – Albums Turning 30 – January 19, 1987 – “Warehouse: Songs and Stories” by Husker Du 

The final album from Punk Rock pioneers Husker Du is also one of their strongest statements. Despite tensions within the band causing a clear division in what direction the sound was going to take, the end result is a cohesive collection of songs which display that they were always one of the worlds greatest pop acts. 

The formula established on earlier albums continues but Mould and Hart display a greater level of maturity in the execution of their songs. The music feels more urgent in its catchiness with the heaviest moments being enhanced by the personal conflict within the band. 

Ultimately it is their finest hour musically but once again, as is the case with most of closed minded punk rock pests, it was overlooked and negatively critiqued by the bands hardcore fans. Had the band stayed together and continued to evolve the sound found on this record there is every chance they would have tasted mainstream success courtesy of the big alternative rock boom of the 1990’s. 

Unfortunately that was not meant to be but if you listen carefully you can hear Husker Du’s influence all throughout the 90’s in bands who broke the mainstream. 

Favourite Track: She’s a Woman (and now he is a Man)

By: Dan Newton 

Listen to the album on the following link:

Heavy and Weird – Anniversaries – 1977 – Albums Turning 40 – January, 23 1977 – “Animals” by Pink Floyd

One of the most overlooked albums in Pink Floyd’s discography is 1977’s “Animals” – a record which seemed to be the one most punk rockers pointed to as an example of how bloated rock music had become. It was unfairly judged and misunderstood by both the fans and critics of the band. 

Continuing the progressive sound forged on “Wish You Were Here,” “Animals” goes deeper lyrically in expressing Roger Waters disdain towards how society was progressing using three animals (Dogs, Pigs and Sheep) to illustrate this. The music is rawer and heavier with more traditional rock aesthetics helping assist the psychedelic sounds reach those far out places required. 

In a lot of ways “Animals” is Pink Floyd returning to the earlier formulas of records such as “Atom Heart Mother” and “Meddle” but with more confidence and overall direction. All in all the music is a strong reminder that despite their knack for extreme experimentation, at the core of Pink Floyd was a rock band capable of connecting to you emotionally with a great groove and heavy riff. The other bells and whistles only helped enhance those simple dynamics giving them a unique place in the rock n roll history book. 

The irony is that this album is more punk rock than the bands and artists of the era give it credit for. This is typical of how most punk rockers think and a true reflection of how punk rock was invented long before a group of trendy assholes in England formed the first manufactured pop band (Sex Pistols). At least Pink Floyd got a bit radical with punk rock and “Animals” for that reason alone is an essential punk rock classic.

Favourite Track: Dogs

By: Dan Newton

Listen to the album on the following link: 

Heavy and Weird – Anniversaries – 1977 – Albums Turning 40 – January, 14 1977 – “Low” by David Bowie

When it comes to David Bowie, “The Berlin Era” is quite a monumental piece of his discography. Two of those albums were released in 1977 and are turning 40 this year. The first album released in the trilogy was the album “Low”

There is pain, there is passion and although it unfolds in a very minimal way the music on “Low” engulfs every part of your being. On a dark highway driving it will open your heart to the swoon of the ache, lying flat on your back with the lights turned off in your room and the headphones on it will take you deep inside your mind and help give you the space to answer some deep philosophical questions. It will haunt you and fuck, it will make you shiver. 

The best part of all is that it will keep you wanting more and you will reach to press repeat on the stereo over and over again. Like all good trilogy’s it is the perfect introduction to the drama. When I listen to this album I hear how influential it has been to so many different artists.

Favourite Track: Warszawa

By: Dan Newton 

Listen to the album on the following link:

Heavy and Weird – Anniversaries – 1967 – Albums Turning 50 – January 4, 1967 – “Self-Titled” by The Doors

This is the debut release from The Doors who would go on to be one of Rock N Roll’s most unique and influential bands of all time. Aesthetically their are lots of firsts on this record, little pockets of sound that would inspire generations of artists. 

At the core of the album however was a heavy blues sound that was given new life through the unique Filter of each player in this band. Of course Jim Morrison is the star but his poetry is given purpose and added drama by Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek. 

It was an odd combination of influences but the chemistry of the band helped birth a new sound that added a new kind of darkness to the psychedelic rock movement. No one had ever gone this deep before and the fact that the album was a hit demonstrates a lot about that era in that new radical sounds were embraced and celebrated by a mainstream audience instead of being delegated to the underground. 

To my ears, this album was the birth of Punk, Metal, Prog and Psych Rock. The Doors were the very epitome of Alternative Rock and responsible for the decades of art or avant-garde inspired rock music that was to follow. 

Favourite Track: The End

By: Dan Newton

Listen to the album on the following link:

https://open.spotify.com/album/1jWmEhn3ggaL6isoyLfwBn

SINGLE AND FILM CLIP OF THE WEEK: “Brisbane, Transit Centre” by Andrew Tuttle

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Today we are proud to be bringing you a combined single and video of the week. The artist in question is a Brisbane underground legend whose pioneering sounds have helped establish him as one of the most respected artists in our country. I’m of course talking about Andrew Tuttle and we’re proud to be premiering his new single and video for a new piece titled “Brisbane, Transit Centre” which you can stream down below.

 

The single is a re-interpretation of a live staple of Andrew’s which was originally recorded a few years back for his first EP under his own name. The song was recorded and mixed whilst Andrew was doing a fortnight residency at EMS Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm after a short European tour in April/May, in between working on a new album,  a follow up to his fantastic 2016 release “Fantasy League.” This single is the first of two standalone singles Andrew will be releasing over summer in the lead up to the album release in mid-2017.

There is a dedication to mood and atmosphere but where other artists may favour the drone Andrew slips into the sunshine of pop music and more traditional folk stylings in order to ground his noise experimentation’s. There are lots of Jim O’Rourkeism’s all over this new single and that totally rules because I’m a devout believer in the healing power of Jim O’Rourke. I can hear the nods to all the pioneers of this genre but for me it was the pop skills of this track that impressed me most. I automatically had millions of different vocal melody ideas leap out of my mind as I sunk deep into this strictly instrumental track. The song is a beautiful thing to witness and is a nice slice of cinematic bliss that will leave you wanting more.

The film clip for this song also does a wonderful job of selling the magic of this song – have a peek below:

 
For those that don’t know, here is a quick history lesson (courtesy of Andrew’s BIO) –  Andrew Tuttle, based in Brisbane, Australia; creates sounds that explore the relationship between instrumentation, structure and genre within electronics and acoustics. Tuttle, usually solo, although occasionally in semi-regular and ad-hoc collaboration, creates a synthesis of electronic/acoustic instrumentation and genre, and improvisation/composition performed on computer, banjo, synthesiser, acoustic guitar, etc etc.

Under his own name and previously from 2004-2013 under the moniker Anonymeye, Tuttle has released recordings on labels including A Guide To Saints (Room40), Heligator, Someone Good (Room40), Bedroom Suck, Feral Media, hellosQuare, Twice Removed, Duskdarter, sound&fury, Flaming Pines, and New Weird Australia. Under his own name, solo, and in collaboration, Tuttle has performed at festivals including St Jerome’s Laneway Festival (Brisbane, AU), Melbourne International Jazz Festival (Melbourne, AU), OtherFilm Festival (Brisbane, AU) and Sonic Masala (Brisbane, AU); and venues including Cafe OTO (London, UK), Gallery of Modern Art (Brisbane, AU), Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane, AU), Le Bourg (Lausanne, CH), 107 Projects (Sydney, AU), HeK (Basel, CH), Plunge (Milan, IT), Brisbane Powerhouse (Brisbane, AU), The Old Museum (Brisbane, AU) and Howler (Melbourne, AU). Tuttle has collaborated live and/or on record (or in other situations) with musicians and sound artists including Matmos, Lawrence English, Mike Cooper, Blank Realm, Cornel Wilczek (Qua), Heinz Riegler, Inner Light (Smoke Bellow), Seaworthy, Rauberhohle, Kris Keogh, Joel Stern, Feet Teeth, Pale Earth and Sasha Margolis (Automating). As well as the aforementioned, Tuttle has shared concert lineups with artists including Matmos, Julia Holter, Forest Swords, Hauschka, The Soft Pink Truth, Daniel Bachman, Gudrun Gut, OM, Deradoorian, Pimmon, Omar Souleyman, Heinz Riegler, Julian Day, Kris Keogh, Tralala Blip, Wixtes, Lumisokea, Monika Brooks, Marihiko Hara and Sparkspitter.

Prior to 2013, Tuttle primarily recorded and performed under the moniker Anonymeye. After three albums, two dozen other recorded appearances and over one hundred live performances in Australia, Europe, and New Zealand; the Anonymeye moniker was retired in early 2013. When not creating music, Tuttle is an active participant in the Australian independent music community, as a creative director, tour manager, freelance writer and arts administrator. Tuttle also has a strong love for cricket.

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/andrewtuttlemusic
Official Website – http://andrewtuttle.com.au

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: “Girlk” by Papperbok

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On their debut album “Girlk” Papperbok deliver us 33 minutes of the best psych pop music of 2016 and in the process announce their arrival as a real contender to take down the whole Tame Impala empire. Ever since the mid-2000’s Brisbane has been promising to produce a pop band capable of taking over the world and since about 2010 we’ve watched them all fade away, break up or attempt to pathetically move onto the next trend. I’m confident in saying that finally Brisbane has the band capable and it is Papperbok and on their debut album “Girlk” they don’t waste anytime proving why they will ascend to become the new pop music elite. 

 

What makes “Girlk” such a special experience is the way it is sequenced. For every pop hook there is a moody interlude swaying in and out allowing the album to move along like one big track. As isolated tracks, each song is brilliant but for the ultimate listening experience you need to sit and listen to the record front to back. The production is perfect and despite the extreme layering present on each track there is still a lot of dynamics allowing each track the space to breathe and grow without a total saturation of the frequencies. All of the players on this album are masters of their craft and know the perfect time to be silent but also attack. This makes the proggier moments more interesting and the pop songs a more direct punch. It’s nice to hear a band lean on their influences but not get too nostalgic about it. You can certainly hear that Papperbok are disciples of The Flaming Lips, Blur, Radiohead, The Beatles and Pink Floyd (and Tame Impala I’m willing to bet as well) but they don’t steal or replicate, they re-invent these established dynamics to help create their own unique sonic dialogue.

The real star of this album however is Annabelle Bingley whose vocals create such a spooky yet beautiful atmosphere. It doesn’t matter whether she is on lead vocals or providing backing vocals, she is a truly creative force and provides fresh, interesting and dynamic melodic passages that lift these songs to some out of this world places. Her voice is pure escapism and carries with it equal amounts of beauty, despair, angst, heartache, humour and celebration. Any dull rock n roll or pop song cliché displayed by the band is instantly washed away the moment her voice elegantly arrives on any of the tracks. 

 That is not to say that this album is cliched, far from it. In context of the modern music landscape it is a true treasure to behold. As a movement of music “Girlk” is a sublime treat of psych pop goodness that is in debt to all of the great British mood bands of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and although the band has opted for a concept record it’s hard for me not to dig deep into these lyrics and see them as metaphors for the authors own personal pain. Using a bit of fiction to help amplify the deep sigh of modern living works well for Papperbok and it allows for the emotion of each song to be more direct and in the process opening up your own imagination. It’s all very cinematic and as one piece of music it moves like “The Final Cut” era Pink Floyd only with more shoegaze aesthetics and post-rock drama which helps to edge it to sounding like a lost timeless classic. 

 This album may have taken Papperbok a number of years to record and release but I’m confident it won’t take long for the band to receive extreme critical acclaim for the end result. I’m confident in saying that “Girlk” is a definite contender for our end of year top eleven list and I look forward to seeing the rest of the world fall in love with the brilliant, intense and smart song writing skills that Papperbok have shown on this record. 

 An outstanding debut album that is total fucking godhead

 By: Dan Newton

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Useful Links:

Heavy and Weird’s Daily Mixtape – Volume One – Nirvana

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On Tuesday the 5th April 2016 a lot of human beings around the world remembered the life and music of Kurt Cobain. It’s hard to believe that he has been dead for 22 years. I was just 11 years old when he passed away and it wouldn’t be until 1995 that I would become a fan of his music and greatest legacy, Nirvana.

Anyone who has read my personal stories across any of the blogs that I’ve written will know that at age eleven I discovered Pearl Jam. This discovery helped open up the door to a scene and community of musicians and artists who came from Seattle. The media and uneducated called it “grunge” but the reality of it all was that it was just rock n roll that paid tribute to all that was wonderful about punk rock, art rock, pop music and heavy metal. The music from Seattle wasn’t just “rock n roll” though, it had a special energy at the centre of it and it’s hard to deny the power bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Mudhoney had. On the surface these bands were some of the most popular bands from that scene but in all honesty there were so many other bands from Seattle that were equally as unique and powerful.

I can never really put my finger on it but I believe that there was a special kind of magic happening in the universe at the time that allowed these bands from Seattle to break through. The way this music resonated so deeply with youth culture was without a doubt a phenomenon. We had of course seen it before but for those of us that lived through it and were there as it was happening, it was an excitement and level of artistry that I’m confident in saying has not been repeated. To those who weren’t there and who only have hindsight and history and the fucking misinformation of the internet to provide you with the (sigh) “grunge” experience, I hope that I can do my best to give some context to how special and pure this period of time was and how Nirvana and Kurt Cobain are the reason why you have the freedom to have your “alternative” lifestyles so accepted in today’s society.

I feel a tad bit out of my depth writing this because although I’m quite a big fan of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, it is in fact my brother Ben who was the superfan growing up and that remains to this day. All of his artistic pursuits were inspired by Kurt Cobain and I’m yet to meet a human being more in-tuned or understanding of the Kurt Cobain legacy than Ben.

Nirvana first came into my life via my Brother Ben who in 1995 brought a cassette tape copy of “In Utero” by Nirvana. This was my first experience with Nirvana and it had a lasting effect on my soul and personality. Ben was 14 years old and I was 11 going on 12. The music contained on “In Utero” was some of the harshest and soul bearing I had ever heard. It had a different energy to Pearl Jam and via the different physical media I was reading at the time the word “Punk Rock” got thrown around a lot. So in all reality “In Utero” was my first encounter with what “Punk Rock” was.

My brother brought Pearl Jam’s classic third album “Vitalogy” one afternoon not long after and after some intense negotiations I agreed to swap my cassette tape copy of “VS” for his cassette tape copy of “In Utero” – so we switched. This all happened in early to late March of 1995 and this was the point in time that Nirvana took over my whole world.

I can safely say that Nirvana were my favourite band at that point in time and “In Utero” was one of the coolest movements of music that I had ever heard. There was a cathartic nature to it all and being in Grade Seven at the time and being on the verge of entering the Teenage Wasteland it was the album and band that I needed in order to help set me free.

To this day “In Utero” remains my favourite, not because I’m some kind of insecure asshole who prefers to pick a favourite album from Nirvana that isn’t “Nevermind” but because it was the first album I heard from the band. It was the first time the band resonated with me and I feel it is their best record. A lot of my favourite Nirvana songs come from this album including “Serve The Servants,” “Scentless Apprentice,” “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle,” “Very Ape,” “Milk It,” “Pennyroyal Tea,” “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter,” and “All Apologies” – these were the songs that my eleven going on twelve year old self was getting off on back in 1995, this music protected me and understood me and Kurt Cobain sparked my fascination with being creative. I was obsessed with the lyrics he wrote and I would look up all the different words he used in my dictionary (when I should have been doing my school work) to try and understand what they all meant and how they related to the emotions he was delivering in his music.

The next album I brought on Cassette Tape was “Bleach” and this was in around June of 1995 whilst I was visiting my Nana and Pop in Brisbane (I lived in Mackay at the time). The reason I brought “Bleach” was because it had the song “About a Girl” on it which I had heard via their unplugged concert. I loved that song quite a bit and the album “Bleach” itself was quite an interesting record. Again, not because I’m some jerk-off purist but simply due to my journey I list “Bleach” as my second favourite Nirvana album. I feel that in 1995 and now in 2016 nothing sounds as middle finger as “Negative Creep” and the opening trilogy of “Blew,” “Floyd the Barber” and “About a Girl” is punk rock heaven. Then there is of course the amazing “School” and “Love Buzz” and not to mention the amazing second side of the album. I loved this album in 1995 and I still love it in 2016, it is one of the best debut albums ever and represents everything that a debut album should be.

This brings to me the moment that “Nevermind” came into my life. It was once again in 1995 and although I didn’t buy a copy of this album proper I did secure a cassette tape copy of it through a friend. To set the scene, in 1995 the grade seven humans traveled to Canberra for a week. It was a grade seven tradition and with the spending money I was given I was committed to buying a copy of “Nevermind” – unfortunately when we did make it to a shopping centre the music store was closed. A friend of mine at the time (my best friend) Stephen Angelucci informed me that he had a copy of it on Cassette tape (he had older brothers) and that if I wanted it he’d give it to me when we got back to Mackay. True to his word, Stephen gave me an original cassette tape copy of “Nevermind” with the only set back being that it didn’t have the inlay card / cover. This was a minor setback for me personally, I was just glad that I owned it.

The sound of “Nevermind” was overwhelming and the opening trilogy of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “In Bloom” and “Come As You Are” is flawless. Beyond being great punk rock it was great pop music and I would have to nominate “Lithium” as the first real “HOLY SHIT!!!!!” moment of the album for me. That song was so amazing; the way Kurt showcased such emotion simply by screaming the word “Yeah” over and over again is brilliant. The second side of the album has three of my favourite Nirvana songs ever “Drain You,” “Lounge Act” and “Something in the Way” all which showcase the genius of Nirvana, the collision of punk and pop skills.

I soon fixed the issue of not having the inlay card as well; we went to the local record store and asked if we could photocopy the inlay card via colour copying. The lady who owned the store let us do this because she knew us, so finally I had the inlay card for the album. In terms of Nirvana’s discography “Nevermind” is my fourth favourite album from the band.

By the end of 1995 I would own the remaining discography buying both “Insecticide” and “MTV Unplugged” on Cassette Tape with Birthday Money I received when I turned twelve in December 1995. This was also the same birthday where I got a brand new Walkman with not just bass boost but also an equalizer so I could adjust the sound. That was one of my favourite Birthday’s ever and I reckon that you Ipod generation fucks missed out on the joy of Walkman’s and cassette tapes, but I’ll save that indulgent rant for another blog.

My twelfth birthday also saw me get another piece of the Nirvana family tree, the debut self-titled album by Foo Fighters on cassette tape. It was given to me by my friend Lincoln Grady after I had raved to him and my Brother about how exciting it was that Dave Grohl was making music again.

Just a sidenote here, before he became the household name that he is now Dave Grohl was considered a joke by the music press and fellow Nirvana fans I knew at the time for starting his own band. He has earnt every inch of his success by fielding a very ugly backlash when he started Foo Fighters. That debut album from Foo Fighters is still one of the greatest albums ever and I’d certainly list it in my top eleven albums of all time. Back to the point, finally owning “Insecticide” gave me access to so many more awesome songs by Nirvana.

This is my third favourite album by the band and it contains my favourite Nirvana song of all time which is “Dive” and of course this is the album that has everyone’s teenage anthem “Aneurysm” but for me it is songs like “Stain,” “Hairspray Queen,” “Aero Zeppelin” and “Big Long Now” that really make this an amazing album.

In 1996 my brother overtook me as the biggest Nirvana fan ever and after he secured a job he upgraded to CD’s and a CD player and brought all of the Nirvana CD’s and Pearl Jam stuff. This meant that I got all of the Pearl Jam cassette tapes back and I resumed my love affair with the band. I continued to love Nirvana but it was bands like Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Metallica that started to take over my life in 1996. I remained a fan of Nirvana and to this day I still love and adore their music.

So when all is said and done, what does Nirvana and Kurt Cobain mean to me?

The music of Nirvana saved me when I was eleven going on twelve in 1995 and inspired my interest in punk rock, heavy metal, art, poetry and of course the currency of saying “fuck you” and going your own way. I didn’t feel the need to victimise myself as a result of Kurt’s influence because although I related to his lyrics and music I understood that his pain was far removed from mine. I had my own demons and my own pain and his music helped me identify that from a young age and how to use music as an outlet of escape and honest expression.

Nirvana taught me that music could be more than just entertainment and that it is indeed about honest and raw emotional expression. When I first dabbled on guitar, it was the music of Nirvana that I learnt and took great joy in playing. I’ve formed friendships with human beings over the love of Nirvana and most of all I’ve witnessed the way Nirvana inspired my brother Ben to become one of the most talented and gifted artists I know.

Kurt Cobain’s suicide may have been the death of the innocence that everyone talks about but with adult hindsight I view it as a selfish act committed by a confused and conflicted human being. To feel the way he did and to have the level of empathy that Kurt did put him in an unfortunate position. Kurt Cobain may have killed himself but for me it was the feeling of being misunderstood by his audience that really killed him and that his message of finding your own voice and own vehicle was being lost on the youth culture who looked to him as a saviour.

Kurt Cobain was not a god he was a human being and like all human beings he has the same emotions that fill all of us. He was given the burden of power and responsibility with the success of his band and whether he did or didn’t want to be the “spokesman of the generation” he is who we got. I’m always glad it was Kurt Cobain but I think the tragedy of it all is that he felt misunderstood and so lonely even in his success. To see people rip him off instead of finding their own individuality would have no doubt been frustrating. I find myself as an adult human getting mad that he took the easy way out and he didn’t find the personal and spiritual strength to live, to survive.

I never blame the pressure of success, his wife or the drugs for his death – I always blame the fans, mainstream culture and the media who misunderstood his message and to this day cash in on his creative legacy and genius. We all killed Kurt Cobain and that is a fact that I believe to this day.

After 19 years it still leaves me empty that we won’t get to hear how he would have evolved musically. I often believe he would have either gone more in the R.E.M. pop direction or possibly he may have gone more noise driven like Sonic Youth. Either way it would have been beautiful and relevant.

Kurt Cobain changed so much in our cultural landscape and for those of you who were born in the 90’s; you are all reaping the benefits of his legacy. The music industry changed and now has business / marketing templates for “alternative” bands. That was because of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. The mainstream culture accepted and now promotes “alternative” culture. That was because of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. A lot of people post 1991 started bands and brought guitars and some of them became famous and others became bedroom players only. That was because of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Triple J became a household name for being the “youth culture” radio network in Australia on a mainstream level. That was because of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.

So as you can see, Kurt Cobain has brought a lot of positive light to this world and after 22 years we are still not any closer to feeling satisfied or happy that it should of ended the way it did. The music landscape went to some ugly places after Nirvana ended and the grunge revivals and constant search for “the next Nirvana” continues to this day. We’ll never find it because in 1991 no one was looking for it. That is when revolution happens in art, when no one is looking for it and it always come from a band that no one initially cared about and is made by human beings who are outside of your popular agenda.

With the oversaturation of Alternative and Indie culture in music it is getting harder and harder for people to recognise that just because they feel “alienated” and play “angsty” music does not give them claim to be some sort of brand new “spokesperson” for youth culture. Trust fund babies who dress the part are not welcome at the revolution. You can put pearls on a swine, but it’s still a pig. The next Nirvana is the band you all laugh at and mock because they aren’t cool enough for your modern youth agenda. Trust me, the next Nirvana will be a band you already bully and mistreat.

The energy and feeling of youth culture in 1991 was that they felt misunderstood. Nirvana was the band they all connected with but Nirvana was just the end result of an underground punk scene that had been functioning for years. On paper you can indeed just call them a combination of Black Flag and R.E.M. but unlike those two bands Nirvana made music that resonated on a deeper emotional level. It was indeed a revolution and I believe that only the Beatles and Nirvana are relevant players in the nomination for who revolutionised Rock N Roll and pop culture.

We miss you Kurt Cobain and we say thank you for the music

May Nirvana’s legacy inspire youth culture for another million years

What better way to kick off our Daily Mixtape series than with a collection of Heavy and Weird’s favourite Nirvana songs which you can listen to via spotify:

 

If you love it – subscribe and stay tuned for more daily mixtapes

Big Love

Dan Newton xo

 

HEAVY AND WEIRD PRESENTS: Loving The Alien – A Tribute To David Bowie – Artist Announcement – nine of nine – Cassette Cathedral

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Heavy and Weird are proud to announce the ninth of nine artists performing at “Loving The Alien: A Tribute to David Bowie”

Cassette Cathedral

Cassette Cathedral are as sophisticated guitar rock band who pay tribute to the history of slacker indie noise rock with massive slabs of psychedelic dream pop swirls, think The Church meets The Brian Jonestown Massacre with a massive nod to Deerhunter. They are a journey band where you hang on every note and go on the ride. There are some new cosmic touches that are added to the usual guitar noise slackerisms that make the band one of the true local purveyors of future punk music.

Their music surrounds you, it engulfs your environment until you are in a cocoon of nightmarish divinity and stark late night highway swirls. There is a loneliness and spooky feel to it all and somewhere buried deep inside the stories being spun there is a real sense that loss has somehow themed these songs. Audiences are always deeply moved at the way the bands songs flirt with a sense of beauty but then before they get too refined and layered they rip themselves apart and become excursions into pure self-destruction and chaotic bliss.

 

 

Cassette Cathedral unfolds deep noise meditations that appeal to everything that aches within you. More aftermath than initial detonation, their music rarely gives you a chance to remain grounded and you’ll unlock new levels of emotion and also wonder what the fuck just happened. Like a foreign injury, your heart and soul will never truly be the same again and when the noise settles and resolves the smile will return to your face. This becomes the moment that you understand the power of sound, more than before and you’ll mourn the fact that there isn’t enough time in your day to listen to a band like Cassette Cathedral. You’ll walk around your house searching for ways not to return to the band and try and throw yourself into something else but while you attempt to be still your mind will be humming every note inspiring you to boycott routine and return to Cassette Cathedral, like a hit and run lover.

You won’t get answers, only questions and that is what good rock n roll should do.

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cassettecathedral
Bandcamp – https://cassettecathedral.bandcamp.com/album/cassette-cathedral-ep
Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/cassette-cathedral

 

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“Right now, it feels as if the solar system is off it’s axis, as if one of our main planetary anchors has lost it’s orbit. That said – I am certain that wherever Bowie is now – I want to be there someday.” – Micheal Stipe

For 69 years David Bowie was a gift bestowed upon planet earth to help our species understand the power and importance of pop music. There was something truly Alien about his presence that gave hope to the freaks among us that we had a spokesman. His curiosity for the weird and wonderful avant-garde artforms helped inform and influence the music he made. Bowie understood and believed in the unpopular, the insignificant and the overlooked humans of society and he gave them a voice. David Bowie was a warm hug for the alienated youth of every generation from 1960 through to 2016 and his influence and power went way beyond just being another pop singer. He invented new ways of communicating musically and he also championed the artists and bands that the music industry elite chose to ignore. There is a lot to celebrate when it comes to David Bowie but his greatest legacy is the way he has inspired the other aliens among us to pick up an instrument and to express themselves through art and music.

Despite his iconic fashion statements it was Bowie’s music that mattered most and on 14th May 2016 Heavy and Weird are proud to be curating their first live musical event – “Loving The Alien” – A Tribute to David Bowie

This event will see a diverse group of artists pay tribute to the music of David Bowie and to dive a bit deeper into his catalouge to share with you some of his most popular and unpopular songs. This is a celebration of alienation and how Bowie’s music helped save and give purpose and comfort and remedy to that feeling of being different to everyone else.

Stay Tuned for our Line-Up announcement

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Leukemia Foundation

Saturday 14th May 2016 at The Bearded Lady
138 Boundary Street West End

Doors Open: 6:00pm
Cost: $10.00

https://www.facebook.com/HeavyAndWeird

 

HEAVY AND WEIRD PRESENTS: Loving The Alien – A Tribute To David Bowie – Artist Announcement – six of nine – Wild Horse Mountain

 

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Heavy and Weird are proud to announce the sixth of nine artists performing at “Loving The Alien: A Tribute to David Bowie”

Wild Horse Mountain

Wild Horse Mountain is the brand new project from Emma and Kassie formerly of Brisbane “Space Jam Pop” Pioneers Foxsmith. Leaning on their eclectic taste in music, Wild Horse Mountain sees the dynamics and moods of their prior band explored on deeper and darker levels. There is a renewed focus on creating deep groove orientated jams shaped by the progressive nature of modern psych rock. Expect to hear dark hypnotic pop songs full of atmosphere that will showcase a more personal and poetic side lyrically without sacrificing the kool thing drone of their previous noise meditations.

It’s music funded by heartache and a real good time, that late Friday night movement from party queen to “what does it all mean” melancholy. It’s soaked in cool, but the kind of cool that artists like Courtney Barnett exude, hard to mimic but easy to admire. Its pop music covered in all kinds of dreams and schemes designed to destroy all your emotions and to make you swoon.

This will be Wild Horse Mountain’s debut performance and as long time fans of the music made by Emma and Kassie we are humbled and very excited to be bringing you this exclusive – so come and be part of history as they pay tribute to Bowie whilst also indulging us with a few of their new tunes – heavy and weird feel incredibly fortunate to have Wild Horse Mountain be part of this line-up.

Useful Links:

Choose your own adventure…

 

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“Right now, it feels as if the solar system is off it’s axis, as if one of our main planetary anchors has lost it’s orbit. That said – I am certain that wherever Bowie is now – I want to be there someday.” – Micheal Stipe

For 69 years David Bowie was a gift bestowed upon planet earth to help our species understand the power and importance of pop music. There was something truly Alien about his presence that gave hope to the freaks among us that we had a spokesman. His curiosity for the weird and wonderful avant-garde artforms helped inform and influence the music he made. Bowie understood and believed in the unpopular, the insignificant and the overlooked humans of society and he gave them a voice. David Bowie was a warm hug for the alienated youth of every generation from 1960 through to 2016 and his influence and power went way beyond just being another pop singer. He invented new ways of communicating musically and he also championed the artists and bands that the music industry elite chose to ignore. There is a lot to celebrate when it comes to David Bowie but his greatest legacy is the way he has inspired the other aliens among us to pick up an instrument and to express themselves through art and music.

Despite his iconic fashion statements it was Bowie’s music that mattered most and on 14th May 2016 Heavy and Weird are proud to be curating their first live musical event – “Loving The Alien” – A Tribute to David Bowie

This event will see a diverse group of artists pay tribute to the music of David Bowie and to dive a bit deeper into his catalouge to share with you some of his most popular and unpopular songs. This is a celebration of alienation and how Bowie’s music helped save and give purpose and comfort and remedy to that feeling of being different to everyone else.

Stay Tuned for our Line-Up announcement

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Leukemia Foundation

Saturday 14th May 2016 at The Bearded Lady
138 Boundary Street West End

Doors Open: 6:00pm
Cost: $10.00

https://www.facebook.com/HeavyAndWeird

HEAVY AND WEIRD PRESENTS: Loving The Alien – A Tribute To David Bowie – Artist Announcement – five of nine – Galapogos

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Heavy and Weird are proud to announce the fifth of nine artists performing at “Loving The Alien: A Tribute to David Bowie”

Galapogos

Galapogos are purveyors of everything and nothing favouring the sweet release of pop skills soaked in the energy of the moment in order to birth an explosion of hushed harshness dripping with cinematic nonsense that is in debt to all of the vibrations that connect with humans on an emotional level.

Established in 2010, Galapogos have managed to become one the most prolific and best kept musical secrets in the country. In the past five years the Galapogos live shows and album releases (Established Ghosts (2011), Feel Or Suffer (2013), Strange Species (2014) and An Emptiness (2015)) have become legendary with a heavy focus on improvisation, pop skills and a lot of noise nonsense experimentation. It has the capacity to be quite an intense journey that travels the full gauntlet of emotions both known and unknown.

The uneducated have labeled Galapogos many things but the band simply refers to their intense noise meditations as Progressive, Psychedelic and Experimental – a beautifully rapturous sound designed to summon the true aliens among us. Despite their funny coloured feet people seem to like what Galapogos do and in return they love them back. Galapogos are always happy to wear the claws if you’d like that.

Dadaism – Surrealism – Noise – Pop Art – Sprechgesang – Free Atonality

Yoko Ono and Kim Gordon

 

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/galapogosbrisbane
Bandcamp – http://galapogos2.bandcamp.com/

 

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“Right now, it feels as if the solar system is off it’s axis, as if one of our main planetary anchors has lost it’s orbit. That said – I am certain that wherever Bowie is now – I want to be there someday.” – Micheal Stipe

For 69 years David Bowie was a gift bestowed upon planet earth to help our species understand the power and importance of pop music. There was something truly Alien about his presence that gave hope to the freaks among us that we had a spokesman. His curiosity for the weird and wonderful avant-garde artforms helped inform and influence the music he made. Bowie understood and believed in the unpopular, the insignificant and the overlooked humans of society and he gave them a voice. David Bowie was a warm hug for the alienated youth of every generation from 1960 through to 2016 and his influence and power went way beyond just being another pop singer. He invented new ways of communicating musically and he also championed the artists and bands that the music industry elite chose to ignore. There is a lot to celebrate when it comes to David Bowie but his greatest legacy is the way he has inspired the other aliens among us to pick up an instrument and to express themselves through art and music.

Despite his iconic fashion statements it was Bowie’s music that mattered most and on 14th May 2016 Heavy and Weird are proud to be curating their first live musical event – “Loving The Alien” – A Tribute to David Bowie

This event will see a diverse group of artists pay tribute to the music of David Bowie and to dive a bit deeper into his catalouge to share with you some of his most popular and unpopular songs. This is a celebration of alienation and how Bowie’s music helped save and give purpose and comfort and remedy to that feeling of being different to everyone else.

Stay Tuned for our Line-Up announcement

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Leukemia Foundation

Saturday 14th May 2016 at The Bearded Lady
138 Boundary Street West End

Doors Open: 6:00pm
Cost: $10.00

https://www.facebook.com/HeavyAndWeird

ALBUM REVIEW: “Post Pop Depression” by Iggy Pop

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There is a great sadness weaving in and out of the new Iggy Pop album “Post Pop Depression” and as satisfying as it is for long time fans musically the fact that this stands as a potential final statement stains the listening experience. It doesn’t hijack the joy of hearing Iggy once again hitting some career best form but if the recent David Bowie loss has taught us anything, no one is safe no matter how immortal we thought they once were.

Perhaps it is my own personal sadness that infects the listening experience with “Post Pop Depression,” still spooked by the madness of what happened with Bowie and the whole “Blackstar” experience, an album which mirrors “Post Pop Depression” at least lyrically in how it highlights the psyche of two creative giants facing their own mortality. Where Bowie may have sounded cryptic with his fear, all reports point to the fact that he didn’t want to die (who does really) and he wanted to just keep making music. In the same way it sounds like Iggy has had an injection or jolt creatively but if you are to believe the lyrics of “Post Pop Depression” this sounds like Iggy is fed up with the struggle and is looking for the next great adventure, death.

The first time this becomes clear is on album highlight “American Valhalla” which puts the theme of death and one’s own mortality front and centre. In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard ruled over by the god Odin. In Valhalla, the dead join the masses of those who have died in combat known as Einherjar, as well a various legendary Germanic Heroes and kings as they prepare to aid Odin during the events of Ragnarok (thanks Wikipedia). It’s a pretty strong metaphor when applied to what Iggy is tackling emotionally in the lyrics to this song.

That’s not to say that “Post Pop Depression” is a funeral dirge affair. Scattered among the sadness are lots of groove laden rock tracks that realistically rival the strength of Iggy’s debut album “The Idiot.” A lot of this comes from the fact that Josh Homme has been one of the first collaborators since Bowie to really push the strengths of Iggy to the front and centre. I’m a strict disciple to Iggy’s full discography and while there have been some high points post 77 across the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s the sounds contained on “Post Pop Depression” outline that Iggy is at his best when he has a collaborator who takes the time to push the intellectual side of his ego to the front. Iggy has always been a great wild rock n roll frontman but his intellect has always been downplayed and misunderstood by both his fans and his critics. Lucky for us Homme has approached this project like a true fan and brought the best out in Iggy.

 

 

On a basic level this is a just a flawless rock record full of groove and glam rock riffage. Not quite punk but not quite rock and not quite nostalgic throw back. That dark desert mood suits the Iggy Pop mythology perfectly. Fans of Homme’s work will embrace the warmth of his production with the music contained within being able to offer a sonic duality where it can be both mournful but still thick with swagger. It makes you realise just what a musical giant Josh Homme is and how with time people may finally catch up and see that like Bowie and Iggy, he is indeed a legend and genius in his own right just as responsible for adding a few different dynamics to the rock n roll and pop singer rule book.

For long time Iggy Pop fans this album will be beautifully satisfying and for fans coming to him for the first time via Homme’s involvement this album will stand as the perfect launch pad. If this is the final statement from Iggy then he has made it a strong one, leaving the way he came in. People will have their various reasons for loving an artist like Iggy Pop – for me I was always in love with his wit and intellect. The way he could be so poetic but so vulgar without ever having to resort to shock tactics. He is the great misunderstood performer who the greater music industry have admired from afar but rarely ever given or paid dues to for his deep influence. Everyone who discovers Iggy Pop has a life changing experience that helps sort out parts of themselves they didn’t know they needed sorting out. He set me free and gave me the confidence that I could be some kind of artist and I’ll always be in debt to his influence.

With “Post Pop Depression” we are reminded that Iggy Pop is, was and always will be the Godfather of everything and anything to do with Punk Rock. The world’s forgotten boy, the one who’ll forever search and destroy.

By: Dan Newton

 

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Useful Links:

https://www.facebook.com/iggypop
www.iggypop.com
https://twitter.com/IggyPop
www.youtube.com/user/iggypop

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: “Full Closure and No Details” by Gabriella Cohen

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The debut album from Gabriella Cohen is called “Full Closure and No Details” and it is a fantastic journey of avant-garde framed pop music full of poetic lyrics and intense emotional stories dripping in heartache and the overall sting of being disconnected from the modern whir of circa 2016 culture. White Middle Class Male Cockheads will say such bullshitery as “She is an old soul” and all sorts of other dick stained opinions but the truth is Cohen makes music for the true aliens and she is not interested in the past or the present, she is all about the moment which will always mean she is 100 per cent authentic and an artist in the truest sense of the word.

 

 

Most humans will only focus on the instant and familiar aesthetics that jump out at them when they hear Cohen sigh and ache throughout this album but if you dig deeper you hear that she is someone who is more in debt to radical artists like Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Duchamp, Hugo Ball, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Laurie Anderson, Salvador Dali, Allen Ginsburg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and of course the Poetry and Novels era of Leonard Cohen. These revolutionaries provide the heart and soul for what makes Gabriella’s music so special and this is why it avoids the cliches and instead favours pure emotional expression.

This is art for arts sake with all the dust and damage turned up to high in order for Cohen’s imaginary world to explode out of the headphones and to stain the listeners psyche birthing an extreme stimulation of the senses. It almost makes you numb with satisfaction after repeated listens giving your heart and soul some spiritual oxygen to help you suffer through this life with a bit more comfort. It helps remind you that sometimes being the alien is the easiest path to divinity.

Cohen’s music is designed for those of us who swallow the cliche’s and shit out quiet revolutions whilst the white male elite attempt to harvest our gold but never truly understand what true heartache and alienation feels like. Each song in the track-list is the sound of modern anti-music / anti-art designed to destroy the world that continues to make false idols out of white middle class privileged males. I can’t stand to see an album this forward thinking destroyed and buried under the kind of regime that supports that kind of big budget mediocrity.

This is an album that needs to be experienced up loud on the stereo of your speeding car as you are escaping the city late at night when you are exhausted by the weight of existence. Music this powerful can only be consumed alone. Such consumption is sure to breed some unique fans for Cohen because she sings so confidently about the pain of disconnection and yearning. The swoon and shiver of the vocal arrangements all across this record is fucking hypnotising. I found myself delving deeper and deeper into those lyrics, trying to find some kind of meaning to Cohen’s mysterious wordplay. It’s hard to focus in on the words because her melodies and backing vocals are  beautifully constructed. The various vocal effects and arrangements help build a wall of protection around Cohen’s emotions making sure that as close as you try to get you will only merely glimpse the true meaning of what she is trying to communicate with her art. This is what makes the listening experience of this album so exciting, it keeps you on the edge and always eager to press play again after it is all over.

I don’t want to make this a political issue but fuck it, I’m going to – if the white corporate male music elite spent more time putting artists like Gabriella Cohen on the cover of their magazines instead of boring middle class white rock boy nostalgia fiends who offer nothing more to the creative landscape than “hell fuck yeah” then maybe just maybe we’d see peace restored to the galaxy. Unfortunately we don’t live in that world and corporate music magazines still fucking suck but that doesn’t really matter because Cohen is building her own secret history and is going to triumph and trail-blaze without the assistance of the fuckhead rock n roll boys club back slapping and dick massaging.

I don’t want to live in that world, you know the one, the one where we once again have to be subjected to a bunch of stoner fucking idiots playing guitars and riding skateboards – I want to live in a world were Gabriella Cohen has the spotlight because she is willing to go deep and dark in order to scatter some new dynamics onto the table. She lives deep in her imagination and her music is an invitation for us mere mortals to come in and indulge and escape and just for one moment realise that the best pop music is made by human beings who are weird aliens bent out of shape by the suffocating rules of societies and scenes.

Perhaps even Gabriella Cohen doesn’t even realise how vital she is but either way her new record is poised to be the launch pad for a career artist who is no doubt scheduling in more masterpieces for us to devour in the not too distant future.

Gabriella Cohen reminds me that girls invented punk rock and that Yoko Ono will always be my favourite Beatle – in the spirit of Patti Smith, Cohen is about to go beyond gender positioning her as one of the first real new millennial avant garde poets.

By: Dan Newton

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(photo by: danni ogilvie)

 

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gabriellacohenmusic/
Buy The Vinyl Here – https://dirtypowerstudios.squarespace.com/shop/

 

EP REVIEW: “EP 1” and “EP 2” by Sophie Lowe

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I don’t mean to blush but I’ve been a fan of Sophie Lowe’s acting ever since I saw her in “The Slap” which lead me to her other films including “Beautiful Kate,” “After The Dark” and “Adore” – all of them are vital pieces of cinema and it is quite evident that Sophie is destined to make the big jump to Hollywood stardom. When I recently discovered that she was transitioning to music I was fucking ecstatic. As an actress Sophie is world class, a true artist and her skill for tackling highly complicated and emotional characters spills over into her music.

In 2015 Sophie released EP1 and EP 2 and when combined they weave together 12 delicious tracks that showcase pop music built on smart songwriting skills and deep emotional drama. With EP 1 and EP 2 we find Lowe venturing into sparse instrumental landscapes with her vocals delivering context to all that haunts her. It is real and incredibly raw commanding your attention. It is no doubt part of Lowe’s creative DNA that both EP 1 and EP 2 are cinematic in their presentation with the music allowing you to paint your own visuals when you shut your eyes and ease into the sound of her voice.

The music of both EP’s have a steady electronica vibe throughout and aesthetically is in debt to the swoon and slide of 1990’s trip hop pioneers Portishead. The sonics are stark and bare with Lowe utilising the space to really stretch out her vocals covering every inch of these tracks with her disciplined ache. Lyrically there are varying degrees of hurt, loss and despair circling the authors need and desire to be understood by those who share planet earth with her. On the surface it sounds like break-up songs but the plea for a mutual sharing of respect spreads itself to so many other possible scenarios where the dread of being misunderstood occurs.  This is music for the late night descent into heartbreak nostalgia and it does a fantastic job of framing all that is painful and all that is joyful about love.

As a singer, Lowe sounds uniquely beautiful and is able to balance the hushed dynamics of a crooner with the sweet shine of a pop singer. Combine this with her ability to experiment with different textures and moods and slowly you start to hear the rumblings of a true visionary who knows the perfect way to mix above and below ground rule books in order to communicate vital pieces of art. That is what makes both EP 1 and EP 2 so great and I just love every inch of it.

It’s no secret that there was a girl who stole my heart long ago and whose shape remains inside the soul of every yearning filled encounter I have with other female humans. Sometimes the fantasy is more pure than the reality and it is because of this that my mind remains her hostage with no real ransom available to dull the ache and set me free. It may be ridiculous to the non-believers but a muse can be murder especially when you search for the face of your yearning and some kind of remedy for sleepless Sundays. When love disappears, every brand new day is yours to fear with a grief so strong your eyes can’t hide it and as a result you build many walls around you to shield yourself from it all. Regardless of how much life I live in the meantime, she’ll hang in my heart forever. This yearning has a language that is heard only by the spirits with total belief that all this pity frames a scar and that in the end it will always remain as faith for the man and a kiss for the friend.

When I listen to Sophie Lowe as the vocalist I tend to slip into that place where that memory of love lost comes rushing back to me. The moment EP 1 and EP 2 on the stereo and plugged in my headphones I felt the sweet embrace of the chaotic emotional journey that is the sting of distant heartache memories. The music of Sophie Lowe provides the perfect soundtrack to this ache soaked journey.

This music is purely nocturnal and will always communicate more clearly between the hours of 9pm and 4am. Like the shadowy pulse of ex-lovers whispering into your ear there are memories of yearning (past, present and future) hiding inside the songs on EP 1 and EP 2. The darkness of it all allows you to trade your fetish for fiction and replace it with new kinds of motion and sequence. You’ll find yourself musing on the lifelong debate of flesh versus the spirit and as you try ever so hard to attach yourself to some innocence. No matter how hard you try that funeral march will continue to trickle down your belly.

The mystery present on songs like “Dreaming” and “Please” from EP 1 and “Pink Flowers” and “Breathe” from EP 2 pushing you to explore that shiver and all of that spooked out bliss she uses to suffocate your mind. You simply have to listen to the lyrics to see that Lowe is once again using very specific metaphors to illustrate her feelings and to allow your imagination to swoon and swing between joy and heartache. In the heat of the summer night Sophie Lowe uses her unique sonic language to penetrate all your angst as you hang spacious from the clutter of your hurt and safely drift away.

One of the real treats of this record is “Like I Do You” from EP 2 which presents a scene of catastrophe with a mood that balances what a monumental picture of hurt existence can be. Although peppered with a dense dark mood, “Like I Do You” still has a bright spark weaving in and out of it. The joy that is the satellite in your heart is what connects to this song, especially the “Like I Do You” refrains – that line gives meaning to the constant quest to transmit to all of those secret faces.

When you’re looking at life through innocent eyes it seems love and desire are quite simple, but sometimes it wounds and it’s so very smooth. That is when music like Sophie Lowe’s sounds best, when you are wounded yet optimistic. This is the kind of music that fires up your romantic imagination making you feel like that somewhere out there he or she waits and that 84 will be worth living for.

I’m sure I won’t be the only one featuring Sophie Lowe on my end of year lists – I can’t wait for her to release a full length album because if EP 1 and EP 2 are merely a glimpse then I can imagine that with time Sophie Lowe will become one of my favourite artists of all time.

10 Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

EP 1

 

EP 2

 

(Editor’s Note: part of this review contains exerts from an original review I posted of Sophie’s single “Understand” back in July 2015 – my initial review gave the perfect description of how I reacted to Sophie’s EP’s so it only felt right to re-edit and add some new thoughts to these paragraphs.)

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sophielowemusic
Soundcloud – http://www.soundcloud.com/sophielowemusic
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/lowesophie
Official Website – http://www.sophielowemusic.com

HEAVY AND WEIRD RECORDS – ARTIST ANNOUNCEMENT – Galapogos release their fourth album “An Emptiness”

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Brisbane band Galapogos were established in 2010 and since then they have managed to become one the most prolific and best kept musical secrets in the country. In the past five years the Galapogos live shows and album releases (Established Ghosts (2011), Feel Or Suffer (2013) and Strange Species (2014)) have become legendary with a heavy focus on improvisation, pop skills and a lot of noise nonsense experimentation. It has the capacity to be quite an intense journey that travels the full gauntlet of emotions both known and unknown. The uneducated have labeled Galapogos many things but the band simply refers to their intense noise meditations as Progressive, Psychedelic and Experimental – a beautifully rapturous sound designed to summon the true aliens among us.

A Brief History

Established Ghosts – released 2011 – https://galapogos2.bandcamp.com/album/established-ghosts-album

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“This focus on Galapogos’s vocal elegance is not to take away from the bands equally great instrumental talent and imagination. Technique and style shifts from echoing bass lines and synthesised tones – as heard in “Dancefloor Questionnaire”, to the weaving, gentle riff of “Existence Arouses Deceiving Grandeur?, to the Narnia-inspiring woodwinds used masterfully during tenth track “Won’t Fall”. Established Ghosts rises, dips and fluctuates, yet never seems to deviate from the same chilly ambience. The jangling piano and copious other unnamed instruments featured in “R.S.V.P” – the outro of the album – combine to create a perfect little schizophrenic good-bye! Honestly, it’s difficult to pick a fault with this album – and I have to admit, I have none. If you find one, let me know. Review Score: 10/10″ – http://www.theaureview.com/albums/galapogos-established-ghosts-lp-2011

Feel Or Suffer – released 2013 – https://galapogos2.bandcamp.com/album/feel-or-suffer-album

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“Their latest production, Feel or Suffer, has bought me great joy, introducing me to some of the most interesting and thought provoking music that has ever crossed my virginal ears. New sounds slowly appear as the old ones fade. Created by those who can see beyond the general spectrum of what we have been taught is ‘good’ within conventional music, this is real and groundbreaking. Galapogos know how to build tension. The musical styling swaps, morphs and alters at such perfect moments you barely register it. It should not work – but somehow it does. Galapogos are the kind of thing that this industry needs more of.” – http://hhhhappy.com/2014/05/08/galapogos/

Strange Species – released 2014 – https://galapogos2.bandcamp.com/album/strange-species-album

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Galapogos never got the three minute pop hook memo. Just like the weather here in Queensland never got the memo that we were meant to have conquered it. People poured out into the streets following one of the most intense storms in recent history – windows smashed, cars pock marked – scratching their heads. A lot of people will react the same way to the squalls, shifts and wails that span Galapogos’ new album Strange Species. Made up of two sprawling jams, Strange Species traverses genre, style, ideas, and, in parts, the madness/genius divide. The record lilts and spills through guitar sounds from waves to jabs, finding and losing its way around sections of repetitive riffs and spoken (yelled and whispered) word. I’ve seen Galapogos live a bunch of times, and it’s when they are doing exactly this that they are at their best. This record is really a statement by its very existence. I listened through it during G20 and it made me more hopeful than any of the politicians. Maybe Galapogos did get the memo, they just chose to write their own manifesto in response.” – http://sonicmasala.blogspot.com.au/2014/12/strange-species-on-galapogos.html

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On the 18th August 2015 the band’s fourth album “An Emptiness” will be released via Heavy and Weird Records. Continuing on from 2014’s epic “Strange Species” the band has once again re-invented and re-imagined their sound producing an economical movement of music funded on the influence of hip hop and electronica music with a heavy focus on the more humbling and organic aesthetics of the psychedelic rock genre. The end result is a sparse yet verbose journey into the spiritual cleansing that erupts when you destroy everything and embrace the blank canvas.

Heavy and Weird Records are proud to finally share this album with you all – you can stream the album in full below via our soundcloud page or you can download the album for free from the Galapogos band page:

Bandcamp – https://galapogos2.bandcamp.com/album/an-emptiness-album

Soundcloud Stream (listen below)

 

Despite their funny coloured feet people seem to like what Galapogos do and in return they love them back. Galapogos are always happy to wear the claws if you’d like that.

 

Useful Links:

Galapogos – https://www.facebook.com/galapogosbrisbane

SINGLE REVIEW: “Come Around” by Stevie

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The fantastic new single from STEVIE is called “Come Around” and it is a brilliant slice of pop music. I am in love with this song and it’s one of the freshest things I’ve heard in 2014. The song is a wonderful rush of bliss that plugs into the kind of romantic yearning that drips from a 1990’s Degrassi Junior High nostalgia hit. It is seriously divine and I can’t wait to hear more from this band. The real star of this song is Phoebe Imhoff who continues to weave tales of melancholy through the sweet sting of her voice. Vocally, Imhoff has a classic ache to her delivery and the angst that hangs off her heartbreak gives character to the music. I’m a firm believer that sometimes the sad songs have to escape from your soul with the kind of joyful celebration displayed on “Come Around” because that is when it truly resonates. The exhaustion of heartbreak is fundamentally always soundtracked by the slow dirge but once you’ve wallowed you need to escape and this is song is the perfect dirge rebound.

What does that all mean?

It’s quite simple really, as a singer Imhoff has managed to avoid the redundancy of noisy guitar music to release one of the most heartbreaking songs of 2014 and after being sent a ton of white middle class sad rock boy music this year it is a refreshing burst of bummer sunshine.

I really hope that STEVIE boycott the EP and really commit to making a full length album.

10 trillion cassette tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Listen to the song here

Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/stevie_band/come-around

Visit The Following Websites to Keep Up To Date

Official Website – http://www.stevieband.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/steviebandau

INTERVIEW: Andrew Stafford – Author of Pig City

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I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my heroes recently, Mr Andrew Stafford who is the Author of PIG CITY which is essential reading for anyone who respects Music. In 2014 PIG CITY turns 10 and is being re-released. I’ve been a long time follower of Andrew’s work so it was an interesting insight for me as a writer. I’ve always respected Andrew’s passion for the music he writes about and the accurate way he has managed to describe so many artists that I’ve both loved and hated. To this day I still feel that having Andrew like anything you release as an artist is a badge of honour because he is such a dedicated follower of the arts and is the kind of music writer you can trust because he himself has such a wide vocabulary of tastes.

So here is the interview for you all – be sure to check out all the links and for anyone considering a career in writing or in music, you need to pick up a copy of PIG CITY and get fucking educated.

 

H&W: Your book “Pig City” traces the development of the Brisbane music scene from the early 70’s to the late 90’s giving a full history of the bands (both mainstream and underground), 4zzz, Punk Rock and of course the political climate across the three decades you cover. What was your first overall introduction to the Brisbane music scene and what was your initial spark to tell so thoroughly the story of Brisbane?

[AS]: Well, my parents moved up to Brisbane from Melbourne at the tail end of 1986, when I was 15, and I was just starting to get into punk (in particular) and all things rock & roll generally at that point. In fact my first great love musically was Midnight Oil, which was about as punk as things got for a teenager in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne at that time! They were a political awakening, as well as a musical one – I think it’s forgotten how important they were, really, especially since Peter Garrett went full time into politics. I saw them live and they took my head off.

In terms of Brisbane, it happened organically; I started going out and seeing bands here simply because that’s where I lived. I subscribed to 4ZZZ in the late 1980s; I went out there during the occupation in 1988, after the UQ Student Union tried to boot them off campus. As I got into punk, I became aware of the Saints, probably from seeing that legendary clip of them playing live at Paddington Town Hall (in Sydney) on Rage. And (I’m) Stranded, of course – that was a Rage staple.

I actually discovered Sydney’s Radio Birdman first – their T-shirts were everywhere in those days – though the Saints ended up having a far bigger impact on me. Of course, I’m talking about the original version of the band, with Ed Kuepper – they were way more raw and primal, and soulful, too, after they introduced the horns. Even so, I can’t remember owning Stranded (the album) until at least 1992, when I got my first CD player. I definitely had the Birdman record on vinyl well before that.

As for the Go-Betweens, they were all a little bit genteel for my tastes early on. I was a bit suspicious of anything that featured non-distorted guitars in those early days! So I never saw them in their classic period, either. I probably didn’t warm to them until around the early 1990s.

The original spark to tell the story came when I saw Savage Garden play the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000. I was just watching on television, of course, but I was gobsmacked and fascinated by it at the same time. I knew that like the Saints, they’d grown up in the boondocks (the Saints in Oxley/Inala; Savage Garden in Logan) and it seemed like a weird kind of circle for Brisbane to have turned. Plus I couldn’t resist the alliteration – From The Saints to Savage Garden! There was a book I really loved at the time about the New York scene called From The Velvets To The Voidoids, by Clinton Heylin – I don’t know if many people picked up how much I stole from him.

Plus and most importantly there was the whole political element of living in Queensland. It was only a few weeks after I arrived that the journalist Phil Dickie started writing the first of his reports in the Courier-Mail that led to the Fitzgerald Inquiry, which triggered Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s downfall. That was really formative stuff. Queensland was such an extreme place back then that it had the effect of instantly radicalising otherwise quite normal people.

H&W: Leading into writing of “Pig City” what was your experience with the Brisbane Music Scene and at what point did you start documenting it via your writing?

[AS]: Apart from just being a barfly who (in those days) didn’t actually drink, I got my writer’s training wheels as a staff writer for the street paper, Time Off, from early 1994 to late 1996, filling in as editor a few times when required. It was a good time to be there, because the Brisbane scene was exploding then; all the obvious bands you can think of (Powderfinger, Custard et al) were all coming through, but there were dozens of others – some of whom had more going for them, in my opinion, than the bands that “made it”. It was an incredible time to be in Brisbane, too, although it would be unrecognisable today. I moved to Sydney for a few years after that, and came back at the beginning of the year 2000. Personally I wasn’t in great shape by that point – I had no job and a lot of time on my hands, for all the wrong reasons. I needed a reason to be back in Brisbane, so I found one.

H&W: I want to focus on “The Saints” for a moment – after reading “Pig City” it is easy to tell that you are quite an avid fan of the band. A lot of the material contained in “Pig City” about “The Saints” is well researched and gives an incredible glimpse into the history of the band. How important were “The Saints” to not only you the Author but to the Brisbane Music Scene as a whole?

[AS]: I’ve answered that in terms of my own experience above. As far as Brisbane goes, it would be impossible to overstate their influence or importance. Sure, there were bands in Brisbane before that, and good ones too, but the Saints were the catalyst for pretty much everything that came afterwards. An entire scene formed in their absence after they left for England in 1977. With apologies to Railroad Gin, things were pretty dreary in Brisbane before that! Even though they didn’t call themselves a punk band, the fact was punk was such an important fulcrum for Brisbane in a volatile climate, and the Saints were at the forefront of that. Speaking of which, internationally their importance is only occasionally recognised to the extent it should be: they were doing their thing before any of the English bands, and better than most of them, too. Basically they just took Brisbane by the scruff of the neck and shook the life out of it. Not that many people noticed at the time – they were the proverbial pebble in the pond, but the ripples didn’t take long to start spreading.

H&W: Talk us through your research for the book – was it a hard process in working who and what to include considering the vast amount of music produced by Brisbane?

[AS]: It didn’t seem that difficult at the time! I had a good idea of which bands I thought should be included and they seemed obvious enough. The thing is, there just weren’t that many groups that had really broken to a wider audience outside of Brisbane, and I didn’t want to write a parochial account that would only be of interest to people who lived here and had lived through it. That said, there were some legendary people whom hardly anyone even inside Brisbane had heard of that I wanted to include – Pineapples From The Dawn of Time, the Leftovers, the Parameters. Most people who never listened to Triple Zed have no idea where the title “Pig City” even comes from. Later on, of course, I got a lot of heat from people who were upset that I hadn’t included them, and complained that I wasn’t here and hadn’t lived through that time, etc, etc – which was true; at least up until the late 1980s.

My defence was always that I wasn’t trying to write an encyclopaedia of Brisbane music; that was never the point. It was supposed to be a book about Brisbane, and that’s quite different. Actually, what was difficult was tracking down all those Triple Zed employees for their recollections – but, this being Brisbane, there weren’t too many degrees of separation between them all, once I found the first few!

H&W: Are there artists and various people that you were unable to interview or who didn’t feel comfortable in participating in the project?

[AS]: Daniel Jones from Savage Garden was the only one I can remember actually flat out refusing. He just had no interest in it whatsoever. Everyone else was keen to talk, especially when I explained what the angle was. A lot of people who lived through the Bjelke-Petersen era still wear it like a badge of honour.

H&W: Did you find a common mood or creative state of mind exclusive to Brisbane linked in with all of the bands and artists you interviewed or do you think that the only common connector was the geography of it all?

[AS]: I don’t think geography had much to do with it at all actually, at least not if you mean the physical landscape. I reject utterly that there was ever a “Brisbane sound”, although there are a few who like to claim there was. At bottom I was trying to answer a question; to what degree did growing up in Queensland, and Bjelke-Petersen especially, influence the output of its writers, artists and musicians? The people I spoke to were more or less united in their opposition, but their responses to him varied enormously. These things are never as simple as people make out.

H&W: What was your relationship with the more mainstream artists like Savage Garden and Powderfinger, were you a fan of them or were they merely used as an example of just how successful Brisbane had become at producing some of the most important music in our cultural lexicon?

[AS]: The fact that they had become successful didn’t interest me particularly, although it did provide the book with something of a narrative arc. Their success was partly a by-product of the fact that their music was less insular and more outward-looking than almost everything that had come before it, and that told you a lot more about how far Brisbane had come, in my view. I admired both bands without especially being a fan. Powderfinger’s early records aren’t great and they’re the first to admit it, which is something I respect about them. They really nailed what they were about with Odyssey Number Five; that’s a good album. So is Vulture Street. They both get a spin in my house occasionally.

H&W: I guess focussing on those bands – Powderfinger and Savage Garden – for a moment, do you think their success and the launching pad for Brisbane as a cultural hit of sunshine is the end result of the hard work done by all of those lesser known underground bands of the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s who really pushed through the political intensity in order to pave the way for the modern music scene as we know it?

[AS]: Yes and no. Both were a case of right band, right songs, right time – as is the case for most successful outfits, but that’s not to downplay the incredible amount of hard work that went into their success. Powderfinger built on what came before them at least to some degree. They had to have an Orient Hotel to play at, just for starters. Savage Garden didn’t; they were pretty much a recording project that went straight to stadium stages, so they had no need for a local scene to nurture them. If they had played those smaller stages, they probably would have been bottled off! They owed more to George Michael and Michael Jackson than anything that had happened in Brisbane, and that’s not a criticism at all; that’s just who they were, and their music was a truthful expression of that. I can never understand why people bag them – they were as honest as the Saints, in their own way. Whether you happen to like their music or not in the end is a matter of taste and beside the point. People occasionally complain that they shouldn’t have been included in Pig City at all, but I was trying to write a history, not re-write it.

H&W: This year is the 10th anniversary of “Pig City” – what do you have planned in terms of a re-issue?

[AS]: Not much, in terms of actual content. There’s a new introduction that tries to put the book in context now that Campbell Newman is the state premier. Readers coming to the book for the first time will hear echoes of the past in the present; history sadly has a way of repeating itself. It’s definitely aimed at a new and younger audience. Other than that I’ve pretty much let it be. It’s not updated – the book was only ever meant to be a snapshot of a particular time; it’s not a rolling chronicle. Talking about all the new bands would be almost another book entirely, and I didn’t want to do that. One change I did make was to take out the discography at the back of the original edition, which was kind of a shame, but it had become obsolete in the age of Google, iTunes, eBay, etc.

H&W: In the past ten years since the release of “Pig City” how have you felt about the current scene of young musicians and bands? Do you think that there is substance amongst the modern scene and what do you think the Digital age has done to the Brisbane music community?

[AS]: I think it’s amazing; it’s better now than it ever was. The Saints and the Go-Betweens aside, most of my favourite Brisbane bands live in the present – HITS, Blank Realm, Some Jerks, Lords of Wong, Seja Vogel, Carrie and the Cut Snakes, Kellie Lloyd; every single one of them have or has made really cool records in the last couple of years. And I hope no one (especially my wife!) feels overlooked by my singling those people out. I think there’s more talent here now than at any time since the punk era, across a wider range of genres. People take a lot more chances, because they’re not answerable to anyone at the end of the day. For both better and worse, it’s actually more DIY than it ever was, because (a) record companies aren’t investing in young talent the way they used to, and (b) recording technology is so much cheaper these days, and people know how to use it properly. You can actually make a really good sounding album now for a few thousand dollars. The downside of course was ever thus: it’s all but impossible to make a living out of it. When I say it’s more DIY than ever, I mean bands have to do EVERYTHING. Most bands fall over at one or more hurdles.

I do think HITS and Blank Realm are both absolutely astounding. Both have made phenomenal albums this year. I’m happy to single them both out for special praise and anyone that is aware of my gig-going habits around town knows that. If I was lucky enough to live in New York City in the 70s I would go and see the Ramones every single fucking chance I could, too. I’m just happy to be in Brisbane as long as they’re around; we’re spoilt to have the two best bands in the country (in my opinion) on our doorstep. They are fabulous live bands; their records will last forever and happily they are all extremely nice people, too, so I know none of my babbling will affect them one iota.

H&W: As a writer in 2014, what kind of struggles do you face to keep up with the pace of technology and do you feel that the internet has helped or hindered the accurate documentation of history?

[AS]: Wow, you saved the toughest question until last there. I’m a bit of a Luddite I guess. I adopted Twitter a while ago, that’s pretty indispensable for a journalist, but I’ve only been on Facebook for a bit over a year. I hated the whole idea of it for a long time, but eventually I realised people weren’t going to stop using it just because I didn’t happen to approve. I didn’t get a so-called smart phone until well after they first appeared, either. It’s held me back in some ways compared to younger writers coming through. Overall, I’d describe myself as a late but enthusiastic bandwagon-jumper.

As for documenting history, the answer is both. The speed of it pretty obviously comes at the expense of both intellectual rigour and accuracy. On the other hand, it’s more accessible to a wider audience than it ever was. People are both more and less informed at the same time. Unfortunately they have a tendency to believe everything they read, and usually think they’re smarter than they actually are, too; probably myself included.

 

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Interview Conducted By: Dan Newton

Andrew Stafford photo taken by Richard Waugh – http://richardwaughphotography.com.au/

On Saturday 9th August 2014 Andrew will be speaking at the Brisbane Powerhouse in relation to the 10th Anniversary of PIG CITY – you can check out the following link for more details

http://brisbanepowerhouse.org/events/2014/08/09/pig-city-from-the-saints-to-savage-garden10th-anniversary/

ALBUM REVIEW: “HIKIKOMORI” by HITS

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I’ve attempted to write this review for the past few months but after seeing so many other fine humans say better and more poignant things about the second album from HITS – which is called “HIKIKOMORI” – I started to wonder what was left to say. The problem is there is a lot left to say but what I want to express is hard to document in mere paragraphs because I’ll either overcomplicate it or get tangled in my typical verbose mumblings so I’ve opted to keep it simple.

It needs to be said – and I’m joining the fucking choir on this one – that HITS have made the best rock n roll record of 2014. The joy I feel when I’m listening to this record at full volume is a beautiful kind of catharsis. The fury of it all infects your atmosphere and you erupt into a pure state of being as a result. There is so much cool dripping from this record, the kind of cool that I’ve attempted to reach as a human being and it is the same cool that attracted me to punk rock in the first place. That desire to somehow mimic the soul and the swagger of it all and to accurately express all that is painful with existence through wit and inebriated rage looms large on every track of this album. Each song truly nestles into the power of saying “fuck you” and “fuck the rules” without the need for clichéd fashion statements. I’ve never had the hips for that kind of swagger but I’ve made a career out of collecting that kind of cool and storing it in my soul so that I can at least talk about the passion I feel for artists who communicate all that is right about rock n roll and HITS are master communicators of the rock n roll language.

When I listen to “HIKIKOMORI” I want to be as cool and effective as Stacey and Tamara, the way they kick out the fucking jams remains to be a lesson in what it takes to be a rock n roll star. I’m a biased fool with this band based on my love of the roar that erupts from the guitar playing of these two humans who so accurately shred with passion and rage.

Here I am though doing what I promised to avoid, getting tangled in my mumblings – so I’ll race to the finish line and leave you with this conclusion. The world is full of manicured ideas and soulless empty calories but when you listen to HITS you’re reminded that for every bad example of rock n roll there are those who get it right and who manage to restore your faith in loud guitars and punk rock once again. The world needs more bands like HITS because they are the ultimate tour de force and have the ability to rock the fuck out and in the process they will help restore peace to the galaxy.

God bless the fucking lot of them

10 Trillion Cassette Tapes out of 10

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Bandcamp: http://conquestofnoiserecords.bandcamp.com/album/hikikomori
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HITSGALORE

 

SHOW ME YOUR RIFFS – Volume Ten – Bianca Valentino

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When I started Heavy and Weird there were a few different people who inspired me to do so. One of the main humans responsible was a local writer by the name of Bianca Valentino. I had been a fan of her writing for a good number of years and I admired deeply the way the way she would conduct her interviews, especially the ones contained in her Conversations with Punx series. The joy of Bianca’s work stems from the fact that she is a true communicator who understands the value of listening to her subjects. When Bianca interviews someone she not only illustrates a great degree of respect by doing a heavy amount of research but she also goes out of her way to construct a series of questions that boycott the laziness of copy and paste journalism. Bianca is a fearless leader who uses love and light mixed with her own vulnerability and darkness to chase her own passion in order to bring to the world some of the greatest writing ever. Further to this she is an incredible mentor to many, myself included and I’m constantly on a journey to be as powerful and as effective as Bianca but in the process to nurture my own individual voice.

I was lucky enough to interview Bianca for my Show Me Your Riffs series and I’m incredibly excited to share this with you as it is a brilliant insight into Bianca as a person and a true master class for anyone wanting to be a writer:

 

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H&W: For those who don’t know who you are, introduce yourself:

BV: Hi! I’m Bianca Valentino. I live on the Gold Coast. I create zines, enjoy writing, love interviewing people and have a lot of fun doing art stuff, especially screen printing shirts with my favourite person ever, Jhonny (Mystery School). I adore hanging out with my mini foxie dog friend, Vincent and I Love listening to records, reading biographies, watching documentaries and thrifting. I’m the creator of the blog, conversationswithbianca.com and have had my work published in Rolling Stone, art and design magazine No Cure, on Everett True’s Collapse Board and I’m a staff writer for Tavi Gevinson’s teen girls’ mag, Rookie. I do collaborative projects with awesome LA-based publication Sound Colour Vibration too. Very soon I will be writing for a couple of other outlets: a collective of kick ass female creatives from around the world and the other is a fashion collective. I believe in self-empowerment and betterment through self-knowledge, DIY, Magick and PMA.

H&W: How did your journey with journalism start?

BV: I started out making my own independent publications – zines – when I was 15-years-old and it grew from there. I started writing for (now defunct) Brisbane street press Rave Magazine in 1997, reviewing live shows, music and interviewing musicians (I did around 200 live reviews and 400 interviews for them). The editor gave me the green light to write for them after I had a meeting with him and showed him my zines. I contributed to the publication for around 15 years mostly doing all the punk stuff.


H&W: Your resume is full of a lot of really engaging interviews where your subjects really go deep and open up to you. What is your process when it comes to conducting a meaningful interview with an artist and what level of discipline does it require?

BV: Thank you Dan. I’m glad you enjoy my work, it means a lot. What you’re doing with Heavy & Weird is pretty cool too. It’s nice to read thoughtful, lengthy features online. I like that you don’t follow formulas or rules and that you don’t just copy and paste press releases and content from other sites. Both you and your writers exercise your own opinions and write from the heart.

As for conducting meaningful interviews, I believe that the following is important: curiosity, lots of research, genuine interest in the person you’re interviewing and their work, solid questions that haven’t been asked of them before, listening is very important and using your intuition. I was watching an interview with journalist/media personality Larry King the other day and he said, “I never learnt anything while I was talking.” I think that’s a great thing to remember, I feel the same way. I’m also really good at tuning into people’s energy. I seem to find people to interview at really interesting, challenging times, often when they’re at turning points in their lives.

Knowing as much as you can about your subject is important. The more you know, the easier it is for you to go wherever the conversation takes you. A lot of books on interviewing that I’ve read have said that the journalist should be in control of the conversation, I don’t believe in that totally though. In my mind we’re both artists and it’s as if we’re working on a collaboration together. I’m not into fulfilling the artist’s publicist, labels or management’s agenda. I am mindful of what the artist is promoting and working on, but there is so much more to an artist than what they’re selling. As you’ve observed, I like to go deeper. I find the best conversations happen when you don’t have a rigid agenda. Depending on which publication I’m writing for, it can also influence the way I do the interview. I’m lucky that I get to write for a variety of publications that have different tones and personalities that enjoy and value my work.

When it comes to my work I’m pretty much always on, always absorbing stuff, always keeping notes. I am constantly working on my craft. Reading and watching lots of interviews helps you to get to know what works and what might not, question-wise, in interviews. I always keep a note book and pen with me too, because I’ve found that inspiration strikes often when you least expect it.

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Bianca with Tavi Gevinson

H&W: As an artist yourself, do you find that it is easier to connect to the people you are interviewing because you understand and respect the unique process involved with creative communication – regardless of whether the subjects medium is art, music, fashion etc – and how do you as a writer gain that respect from the artists you speak to?

BV: I think one of the biggest reasons I connect with people I’m interviewing is the fact that I care and my questions show that. As I’m sure you’re aware, sometimes bigger artists do days of pretty much nothing but interviews, so the same stock standard questions most mainstream publications and media outlets ask, get tiresome. When they get to someone like me with fresh, thoughtful questions that show I’m knowledgeable about their body of work and career they get excited and are more than happy to open up. I want to talk about what the artist wants to talk about. An interested interview subject will engage with you. I don’t shy away from asking tough questions either. I have a lot of creative friends and I like to interview them, so if you have a pre-existing relationship with someone that can also produce an engaging interview. Same goes for interviewing someone repeatedly throughout their career, you build trust and connection. Over time I’ve become friends with many people I’ve interviewed, which is nice.

 

H&W: I’ve been a big fan of your writing for quite a while and one of your most engaging pieces of writing has been your Conversations with Punx project. How did this project come about?

BV: I’ve always been inclined to lean towards mysticism, ancient knowledge, the esoteric and the spiritual. As a kid I had a lot of books on myths, ancient civilizations, witchcraft, and stuff like that. I am incredibly fascinated by history and documenting things. When I started the project I was diagnosed with severe depression. I was questioning a lot of things, like people and situations in my life, most of all myself. I had some bad people in my life that didn’t have my best interests at heart, when people show you who they really are you should believe them. I have a tendency to see the best in people and focus on the positive which sometimes can get you in a not so great place; I’ve learnt to find a nice balance these days. At the time I started to search for something more, something better than where I was at. I decided to explore that through the medium I knew best—punk rock. I did my first interview for the project in 2003 and now in 2014 I’m pretty sure I’ve done my last interview…I did it only a few weeks back and it was really powerful, revealing and made me face stuff that I’d been pushing down deep inside myself and that was blocking me to finishing the project. That conversation kicked my ass you could say.

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Copies of Bianca’s Conversation With Punx Series

H&W: With the rise of the digital age, we’ve seen the dumbing down of engaging and meaningful communication. How do you keep your message full of light and love in an era that no longer favours depth and intensity?

BV: Well, what’s the alternative to having a message of light and love? I have no interest in the opposite of that…I’ve experienced too much pain and negativity in my life that I have consciously chosen to fill my life with love and light and to promote that. Have you ever read the book, The Four Agreements? One of the agreements is to be impeccable with your word meaning, “Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.” There’s already too much negativity in this world, I will not add to that. I will do what I do regardless of trends and what everyone else is doing. You know, I have bad days just like everyone else but everyone doesn’t need to know my problems, they have enough of their own. I’m a pretty private person and I get conflicted about how much of myself to share, especially online. I have a hard time being in the spotlight, I like my work to speak for itself.

 

H&W: In 2011 you were the Zine maker of the year. How important has fanzine culture been to your creative evolution and in the digital age, how important is it to keep the underground music scenes alive through this vehicle of communication?

BV: Most of the time I feel like an outsider amongst outsiders…to be honest I’ve never felt part of the zine culture so much. I started working on remedying that and trying to get involved more with other zine makers by starting the zine collective, Paper Cuts Collective with zine dudes I know, Staples and Matt Limmer. I really love Justin George’s zine, Wasted Opportunities and I love fellow Rookie contributors Suzy X’s stuff and Brodie Lancaster’s Filmme Fatales.

 

H&W: What connects you so deeply to the art that you write about and why is art so important to your existence?

BV: Art needs to move me in some way, if it doesn’t I’m wasting my time. I get things pitched to me all day long by PR people, management and labels. It’s very rare I connect with what they’re selling. I’m online every day actively seeking out new music and art. I love mixtapes and mix-CDs too. If someone has taken time to lovingly curate a mix, more often than not it’s going to rule.

As far as my own art, I’ve been exploring what I can do creatively. It’s not even always about the final product of the art, it’s about the process and the connection that comes with sharing. Until now I’ve always been kind of scared to share my own art. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by such talented people who I always saw as true artists and well…I didn’t think of me as one at all. I just make stuff. I’m getting better at owning what I do. I had a really interesting conversation with my friend Ian from Japanther about this last week, you can read it here: http://conversationswithbianca.com/2014/06/07/japanther-interview/

 

H&W: Who has been the most influential person in your life when it comes to your writing?

BV: There’s a few. Anthony Bozza, if I could write half as well as him, I’d be happy. Everett True has helped me a lot to be more confident in what I’m doing; I joke with him too that I usually do the opposite of what he suggests, or how he does things…his passion for music and championing of female artists is incredibly inspiring. Tavi and the contributors at Rookie are just the greatest extended family a gal could ask for; each one of them is crazy talented and inspire me every day with their work. I cry reading Rookie all the time because it resonates so much with me. My homie, Erik Otis from Sound Colour Vibration has one of the most inspiring work ethics ever and his words are poetry—he really cares about what he does! I’m also inspired by songwriters like Matt Caughthran from The Bronx, Jesse Michaels, Jennifer Charles from Elysian Fields, Elisabeth Esselink aka Solex…I could go on for days here. I love word play and poetic licence. The rhythm of words fascinates me too. In life in general my Jhonny inspires me more than any other person ever has, he’s the most phenomenal soul I’ve ever known.

 

H&W: You’d had the opportunity to interview some of the most influential figures in Punk Rock, how has that helped change and evolve your understanding of what Punk Rock is and circa 2014, what does Punk Rock mean to you?

BV: Punk to me is about: individuality, creativity, posi energy, fearlessness, community and togetherness. I’ve picked up little bits and pieces along the way, there’s too much to explain it all here. When you read my project’s book you’ll get a much better understanding.

 

H&W: If you engage the various music publications, both physical and digital, you find a lot of lazy and clichéd forms of journalism and a lot of negative reporting. What do you think is the main influence of the laziness that can exist in the mainstream music media?

BV: For the most part, I don’t really care what other people are doing. I like to focus on my own work. To answer your question, maybe stuff like writers and journalists not truly caring about what they’re doing, treating it just like any other job…being enamoured by celebrities etc., free perks etc. rather than the actual work and craft. I make my own media and teach others to make their own media through workshops.

 

H&W: How would you describe your dedication to Spirituality and how does this influence your writing?

BV: My writing and interviewing is part of my spiritual practice. I am dedicated to it for life. It is my life. Spirituality is life.

 

H&W: What is your definition of bad music?

BV: As I’ve said before, I like to concentrate on, and promote positive things I enjoy. Bad music is subjective to people’s taste. People can listen to whatever they want. There’s room for everything, except (in my eyes) racist, sexist…you get the picture, kind of stuff. That being said, raises the idea of freedom of speech and free will; should people be allowed to say and think what they want? It’s a complex issue.

 

H&W: What is your definition of bad journalism?

BV: Pretty much the same as what I’ve said for bad music. Getting specific I would add though: cutting and pasting press releases; journalist not asking researched questions; reviews written to a formula, ripping apart something to get attention; misleading headlines…those are a few things that come to mind right now.

 

H&W: What is your definition of bad art?

BV: I don’t like labelling something that has come from a fellow Creatives heart as bad. It might be very important to them or cathartic for them dealing with stuff in life. You have no idea what battles most people face in their daily lives, art is something that can offer relief from that. I encourage as many people as I can to create, especially the ones that don’t believe they are creative. I believe we’re all creative in some way. We’re creations our self after all. I even support my friends that do art whose work I might not personally be into, it’s important to nurture that creative spirit in people and to encourage art. Being an artist has helped me navigate life without killing myself.

 

H&W: With such a rich dedication to the history of music, who are some of your favourite musical acts?

BV: I love people that do interesting things and that are always challenging themselves. I like people that help foster community too. Some favourites off the top of my head are Japanther, Regurgitator, Monsterheart, Mystery School, Le Butcherettes and Bosnian Rainbows, CSS, Nightmare Air, Against Me, The Units, Del The Funky Homospaien, Pyyramids, Little Trouble Kids, Millionaire, Arcane of Souls, Santigold, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Secret Chiefs 3, 13th Floor Elevators, Mark Lanegan, Gogol Bordello, Chad VanGaalen, Gary Numan, Designer Imposter, PJ Harvey…

Bianca4
Bianca with Gary Numan

H&W: What projects do you have coming up?

BV: My new Conversations With Punx zine #9 “Magick” will be out by the end of this month. It features chats with OFF!’s Keith Morris, ex-Blondie bassist and esoteric writer Gary Lachman, Wade Youman from Unwritten Law, Ian from Japanther and Don Foose from the Spudmonsters. I also have like 16 interviews in the works for my site. I’m putting the book version on CWP together. I’m shooting to have that out next year.

 

H&W: I believe that an artist’s role within society is to tell the truth. I see all the work you do as not only some of the most vital pieces of communication I’ve ever read but as a work of art itself. To my eyes when I read it, it comes together like a song and is full of different emotional dynamics that help it connect to the reader. In a world that values censorship and fevered egos your existence within the reporting of the art world is a treasured one. How important is it to stay true to your morals and belief systems in an industry that generally favours shallowness and fear? What is your advice to young artists and writers who are trying to make a difference and find an audience whilst staying true to their own truth and moral codes?

BV: It’s everything. Truth is the ultimate. It’s the highest. You can’t escape yourself. You need to be able to put your head on the pillow at night and know you’re living your truth and that you’ve done your best. If you’re not being truthful you’re not being your best. My first CWP zine was called “Truth” because that is super important to me. As far as advice, just do you. Don’t try to be someone else or fit into what you think others want you to be. Write and create from your heart, that’s what will make your work special and yours because no one else can do you. Don’t be swayed by others, think for yourself.

Thanks for this interview Dan. It’s weird for me being the interview subject…ha! Thanks for the work you do at H&W, glad you guys exist.

Bianca6

Useful Links:

Conversations With Bianca Website: http://conversationswithbianca.com/

 

Interview Conducted by: Dan Newton

 

 

 

 

 

TRIBUTE: “Superunknown” by Soundgarden – 20th Anniversary (8th March 2014)

Superunknown

My relationship with “Superunknown” by Soundgarden has been a 17 year long affair and after all this time it is still an album that I’m discovering. My first flirtation with this album started purely with four songs on Soundgarden’s A-Sides compilation. Those songs were “Spoonman,” “The Day I Tried To Live,” “Black Hole Sun” and “Fell On Black Days” which were some of the bands biggest radio singles circa 1994 / 1995. Anyone who was a teenager in that glorious period between 1994 and 1997 knew about the healing power of “Black Hole Sun” which like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana became one of the established anthems of youth culture / angst and one of the definitive musical statements of the 1990’s decade. Although my journey with “Superunknown” started with these four songs in 1997, it wasn’t until 1999 that I would finally discover all of the mystery and darkness of this album.

To set the scene, it’s probably wise for me to establish that through my older brother I was first exposed to Soundgarden as a band in 1996 via their “Down On The Upside” album. This was my original starting point with the band and beyond the “A-Sides” compilation the only other experience I had with Soundgarden prior to my “Superunknown” discovery was with their second album “Louder Than Love” which was an album I acquired through one of my Brothers Friends. I wouldn’t discover the beauty and grace of “Louder Than Love” as an album until later in my teenage years and early twenties.

The one song that prepared me for my “Superunknown” experience was “Fell On Black Days” which was the albums fifth and final single (released May 1995). My first experience of this song was as mentioned above on the bands “A-Sides” compilation in 1997. As dark and moody as “Fell On Black Days” is, at its core it is a brilliant pop song. The grind and distorted bliss of it all provides a fantastic frame for the pop skills on display and as my understanding of music grew I started to hear that a song like “Fell On Black Days” is more Beatles than it is Led Zeppelin. The pace of this song swings best late in the afternoon as the sun is going down and dirge of your day is coming to a halt. That thick orange sky that is flirting with the darkness of the night gives the perfect visual illustration of what this song is communicating.

When I heard “Fell On Black Days” for the first time in 1997 I fell deeply in love with that sound and that Mood. It was incredibly dark but also extremely mysterious with the pain of existence accurately captured both lyrically and musically. It painted a grim picture but also latched itself onto some kind of hope. There was a need and a desire for the author of the song to escape the crippling darkness and an overall willingness for joy to resurrect them some plateaus of peace. This wasn’t just a song dealing with the trivial growing pains of teen angst; it was rooted in that real world drama that comes with adult life and that constant need for escapism.

When I was an alienated obese teenager it provided comfort and strength but I wouldn’t really feel and understand a song like “Fell On Black Days” until I lived a little more life.  When I listen to it now as a 30 year old human I can’t help but hear that this song is more a reflection on the angst of knowing you’ll die more than it is about depression. The way it shapes the hopelessness and drudgery of routine provides the biggest glimpse that a degree of slumped “what’s the point, we’re all going to die” thoughts race in and out of every lyrical passage of the song. I can’t speak specifically about what Chris Cornell’s muse was for this song but one thing is for sure, this song is about a deep heavy sense of loss and your inability to control the pace of life.

This bleak sunshine radiates quite frequently over the course of “Superunknown” and although it has the ability to sound like the perfect soundtrack to the end of the world it is more apt that this album deals thematically with your own personal apocalypse and the crippling saga of a dark descent into a beautiful kind of numbness. You could read into the lyrics and piece together this album like it is some kind of concept record but realistically the overall moodiness of it is what makes “Superunknown” a consistent rush of dark emotions and peering over the edge optimism.

As and album experience “Superunknown” saw Soundgarden tearing apart their sound and experimenting heavily with new musical dynamics in order to create their own unique sonic dialogue. Whilst the band always was unique from a sound point of view, stylistically they wore their influences on their sleeve on their earlier albums. From “Screaming Life / Fopp”  through to “Badmotorfinger” Soundgarden illustrated an ability to combine the intensity of heavy metal with the pace of punk rock and the grime of Black Flag era hardcore. Combine this heaviness with a healthy interest in weirdness (in the vein of Butthole Surfers), 60’s and 70’s psychedelic rock, peppering’s of Prog Rock  and you get a pretty good idea of how the band was attempting to communicate. You could use many different genre tags to describe it but quite honestly the simplest way is to say it was just heavy. It didn’t matter how loud or quiet, fast or slow or weird the band was being they were fucking intense and extremely heavy.

The band’s knack for pop skills still appeared every once in a while in the early albums but it wasn’t until “Superunknown” that the band fully explored this dynamic in their music. I’m not quite sure when I started to think this, but I’ve always seen “Superunknown” as the closest experience to a modern heavy metal soaked Beatles as any band in the 1990’s or 2000’s would get. There is something very “Sgt Peppers” about the way “Superunknown” unfolds and whilst people can debate about the legitimacy of which album serves as the best version of Soundgarden, one thing remains true and that is that “Superunknown” was and still is the bands masterpiece.

This brings me to the first time I heard “Superunknown” in its entirety. It was 1999 and after a desperate hustle I managed to acquire a secondhand copy of “Superunknown” from my friend Ben Steward. I’m not quite sure how I orchestrated it but I managed to swap or buy Ben Stewards copy of “Superunknown” and although it was slightly used and second-hand the magic of the music was still very accessible on the disc.

The first memory I have of “Superunknown” is sitting down in my bedroom circa 1999 the afternoon after I acquired it from my high school friend Ben Steward and looking through the inlay card and marvelling at the album’s artwork. The mysterious cover presented somewhat of a puzzle and perhaps I was incredibly naïve back then but it took me ages to realise that it was a distorted photo of the band. Flipping through the pages of the inlay card really allowed for the mystery and wonder to multiply as the use of specific colours and photographs allowed for the bleak mood of “Superunknown” to be set before I even pressed play. After spending a good half hour studying the album artwork and reading the lyrics printed within the inlay card I finally put the album in my CD player, lay down on my bed and heard the first distorted gallop of “Superunknown” hit me as the opening track “Let Me Drown” gently exploded from my speakers.

As is the case with every album that changed my life, I always tend to remember a specific group of songs that jumped out and connected with me upon that initial listen. These are the types of songs that really illustrate to you that what you are witnessing is a work of pure artistic genius. During the course of my first listen to “Superunknown” that honour belonged to three tracks in particular, the sixth track “Head Down” the albums epic thirteenth track “4th Of July” and the album closer “Like Suicide” (well technical album closer – “She Likes Surprises” is a bonus track).  There is no real magic reason as to why these songs positioned themselves as the “holy fucking shit” moment for me, all I remember is the sheer velocity at which these tracks synced into my ears and caused a kaleidoscope of emotions.  These songs were very fucking heavy and apt introductions to the shivering darkness presented all throughout “Superunknown” and are the perfect introduction to how you will be swung between so many varying landscapes during the initial listening experience.

From start to finish “Superunknown” is a collection of highly intelligent rock n roll funded by a group of individuals clearly burnt and disappointed by the crippling lack of privacy that fame and success brought them. This seemed like a typical template for all of the bands from that era to follow due to the explosion of the Alternative Nation but no one quite captured the disappointment and burden of fame and success like Soundgarden did on “Superunknown” and whilst the album isn’t strictly thematically linked to this topic it’s hard not to connect the dots considering all of the “end of the world” imagery used throughout the albums lyrics. The fact that Kurt Cobain would selfishly take his own life barely a month after the release of “Superunknown” is in a lot of ways a spooky coincidence. Although there is no clear link between what “Superunknown” is communicating and what Kurt Cobain would go on to do, it is indeed hard not to ignore a clash in the themes. These themes were present in all those bands that changed the world so viciously in the early 1990’s. The difference between someone like Kurt Cobain and someone like Chris Cornell is that Cobain became a causality whereas Cornell struggled through it and with “Superunknown” sung so vividly about how much struggle he was suffering under.

Whilst “Superunknown” is the result of four very talented artists working in sync with each other, the real star of the album is without a doubt Chris Cornell and his magnificent voice. All the beautiful magic of the guitars, bass and drums wouldn’t be as potent if it wasn’t for Cornell’s voice and overall melodic influence. Even on the songs he didn’t write, he still acts as the perfect interpreter and delivers the words and melodies like they were his own. I think Cornell has always been unfairly compared to Robert Plant and whilst I understand the comparison I always felt like he was trying to channel John Lennon. It may not be an obvious component of his voice or songwriting but if you study Soundgarden the way I have you’ll hear how important The Beatles were to shaping the band’s sound.

To speak strictly about the Cornell star power is to ignore the talent of the other players and songwriters in Soundgarden and on “Superunknown” we get to hear the importance of Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd on an even deeper level than before. Although Thayil’s writing credits are limited on “Superunknown” his influence over the guitars is mighty. More than just a lead player, Thayil colours each track with a degree of understated class whether he is riffing or playing a delicate lead. He never overstays his welcome and always fits into each song perfectly giving a darker more psychedelic vision to each note presented. His lead work on the albums biggest single “Black Hole Sun” was pivotal in making the song so memorable but also so weird, dark and heavy.

No matter how great the songs or the songwriter, every great band needs an amazing rhythm section. A great bass player and inventive drummer will take simple songs to places initially undreamed of in the bedroom acoustic demo phase. It’s no secret that Soundgarden has one of the best rhythm sections in Modern rock with no one in the alternative rock landscape coming close to their inventiveness and power. The bonus of what Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd do as a rhythm section is that they are also quite brilliant songwriters, they understand what a good song needs to do. It is this understanding of the songwriting process that allows them both to be so creative with how they construct and broadcast the rhythm and groove of the songs.

The songwriting of Cameron and Shepherd is also one of the reasons why “Superunknown” presents itself as such a unique piece of rock n roll. One of the stand out tracks on “Superunknown” is the Shepherd penned track “Head Down” which is the best argument sonically for how Soundgarden evolved that slick psychedelic pop sound championed by the Beatles during their “Sgt Peppers” phase. This influence is explored deeper and communicated with more direct lineage on another Shepherd penned track “Half” which sees him take lead vocals. It has taken me years to fully appreciate the inclusion of “Half” on “Superunknown” but after years of listening to this album I feel that it is one of the most interesting and perfect examples of what makes Soundgarden so great. Sonically, “Half” sounds like the kind on song that George Harrison would have contributed and it carries a heavy dose of “Within You Without You” but it sounds supremely more evolved and in my humble opinion, better.

Then there is the music that Matt Cameron wrote which any educated human will tell you is some of the finest entries into the rock n roll dialogue ever. Just take one listen to “Superunknown’s” fourth track “Mailman” and you’ll hear how Cameron managed to write a song that became a template for the Stoner Rock genre. The genius of Matt Cameron’s skills doesn’t end there, take one listen to “Fresh Tendrils” and you’ll understand my argument for why this album is linked so heavily with The Beatles and all of the Psychedelic music of the 60’s. The amazing component of Cameron’s songwriting is the way he manages to combine such intense and complicated rhythmic structure to the simplicity of a pop song melody. To make the music so diverse from a time signature point of view and to avoid the trappings of having it sound like pure soulless mathematics is a skill but somehow Matt Cameron pulls it off with the same understated style and grace that Thayil does with his guitar playing.

The real centrepiece moment of “Superunknown” is without a doubt the albums ninth track “Limo Wreck” which stretches out over five minutes and forty-seven seconds. This is the song I always use to showcase why I love Soundgarden and it is always one of my first choices when I’m making a mixtape / cd for another human. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve sat amongst the tortured sway of “Limo Wreck” and just mused on the beauty of what this song is describing. On the surface the song is a tale of loss and focuses heavily on the destructive power that comes with the rise of the ego and how all good things that go up must come down. Instantly you can connect the lyrics to the circumstance Soundgarden and the rest of the alternative nation found themselves in when the mainstream appeal of their music became so overwhelming that it was merely reduced to fashion as opposed to an exercise in pure expression. The chorus of “Limo Wreck” is a haunting refrain about the destruction and cycle of celebrity and cultural trends in general.

Earlier in this article I mentioned how eerie an album “Superunknown” is considering that Kurt Cobain killed himself not long after its release. If you listen to “Limo Wreck” closely and analyse the lyrics you can almost feel a shiver run across your spine. It is so incredibly spot on with the turn of events that was to follow the release of “Superunknown” and how it would change the world. One passage of lyrics that really stand out in regards to “Limo Wreck” is as follows:

“I’ll be going down for the rest of the slide While the rest of you harvest the gold

And the wreck of you Is the death of you all And the wreck of you Is the break and the fall I’m the wreck of you I’m the death of you all I’m the wreck of you I’m the break and the fall”

You’d be foolish not to feel a little bit spooked with how accurate these words are in terms of describing what Kurt Cobain managed to do with his death. The nature of trend will always allow for a popular scene to die out and for something new to birth but with the alternative nation and grunge era it was Cobain’s death that signalled an ugly end to the mainstream view of the bands birthed from the era. This was then replaced with cleaner more “market ready” more “celebrity hungry” alt rock heroes who managed to ruin all that was good about guitar driven rock n roll. Perhaps I’m reading too deeply into the lyrics of “Limo Wreck” but it is hard not to review these lyrics and see just how they predicted the future of the alternative nation. I especially love the line “While The Rest of You Harvest The Gold” which in my opinion sums up just what the music industry did after Cobain’s death.

Clint Morrow also has some words to say about “Superunknown” so before I rush to my conclusion I’d like you to read his thoughts on this album:

“Superunknown was the album where Soundgarden grew up.  No longer content just to write heavy riffs, thrash around, and ape Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, Soundgarden finally forged their own identity.  Songs like ‘My Wave’, ‘Fell On Black Days’, ‘Superunknown’, Black Hole Sun’, ‘Spoonman’ and ‘The Day I Tried To Live’ showed a new maturity and sophistication that were never fully realised on Badmotorfinger.  In particular, touches like the Eastern-tinged vocal harmonies towards the end of ‘My Wave’ displayed a depth that had never even been hinted at on previous records.  Superunknown is always my go-to Soundgarden record; not just because it’s their best album, but because it’s one of the greatest heavy rock/metal albums ever released, and quite frankly, I prefer a side of texture and sophistication with my riffs.” – Clint Morrow

It’s no secret to those that know me just how much I adore the music made by Soundgarden. When I sat down to plan out this article I had to keep reminding myself that “Superunknown” was in fact turning twenty. I’m sure everyone says it about their favourite albums but I honestly find it hard to fathom that so much time as passed since the release of this album. Culturally there has been a dramatic shift in what people deem as popular and although Soundgarden to the youth of today may sound like “classic rock,” to those of us that lived through it, the album still sounds as exciting and as potent as it did when it was released in 1994. People will forever talk about how a great album changes with you and how the discovery process of the music presented lingers long after you first encounter it. In my life “Superunknown” is definitely one of those albums. It is the sound of my youth and my yearning to survive it and to somehow find a level of peace. As I grew so did my understanding of what “Superunknown” represents and was attempting to communicate. I often wrestle with angst and the weight of existence but through music I am guided to a level of escapism that cannot be reached through the recreational or pointless pursuits of “having fun” or whatever they call it these days. For the past seventeen years it has been the music of Soundgarden that has soundtracked this journey and allowed me to find some kind of remedy to all that aches within me emotionally.

I wasn’t alive when The Beatles were at the height of their creativity or when Led Zeppelin changed the rock n roll landscape. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be born when Black Sabbath introduced the world to heavy metal or when Punk Rock came screaming out of the underground. I am proud to say that I was alive when a group of bands from Seattle spearheaded a movement of music known as a Grunge. I’m grateful that I have the memory of knowing what that era felt like and that I got to experience those bands at the height of their popularity. All of the musicians from that era have gone on to write music that is just as relevant as their more commercially “known” material and I still support every single one of them, not because of nostalgia but because they all evolved and got even cooler. It’s just that nature of all things that it goes up and then goes down and then somehow becomes cool again.

I’m confident that with “Superunknown” Soundgarden managed to make better music than The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Historically we may not be ready to admit that just yet but over time I think people will begin to see the value and influence of “Superunknown” and that the key ingredient to not only Soundgarden’s success but the whole Grunge movement was that they didn’t use nostalgia to evolve the rock n roll language. Each band had an original and unique voice that set the pace for generations to come. There have been so many great rock n roll bands since that era that have evolved that language but there is something to be said about that moment in time in terms of how all of those bands influenced culture and how no one since then has learned to better it, they just harvest the gold.

By: Dan Newton

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Soundgarden
Official Website – http://www.soundgardenworld.com

HEAVY AND WEIRD – END OF YEAR LIST – VOLUME ONE – TOP ELEVEN AUSTRALIAN ALBUMS OF 2013

 

It is my favourite part of the year, the time where I get to sit down and work out all of my favourite releases of 2013 and today I want to share with you the top eleven albums released by Australian artists in 2013. There has been an amazing amount of music released from Australia in 2013 and I got to review a lot of it. Here are my picks in terms of the best – please read and enjoy


Top Eleven Australian Albums of 2013

1. “In Blood Memory” by Jen Cloher

JenCloher

When I reflect on what makes a great album I think about the way an artist attacks all my senses. There has to be an initial explosion from the moment you turn the album on that pulls you in and just takes over your world. A great album will infect you deeply with every inch of it swirling in your head. It will be all you think about, it will consume you to the point of needing to clear schedules just so you can hear it. You’ll arrive to work 15 minutes late just so you can hear that bit more of it in your car stereo. A great album will block out all of the cruelty of the world and in its place create a world of beauty designed by your own imagination. Some albums simply sound great and you can acknowledge the craftsmanship that went into its creation. Other albums, the ones that matter and the ones that are timeless will never need to be explained beyond the way it leaves you changed. An album is merely a piece of dialogue between you and the artists involved, sometimes it can be simple small talk but other times it will erupt years of meaningful conversations and answers to your questions. It will serve as the ultimate imaginary friend and will help you celebrate life no matter the occasion or emotion. A great album will be a timeless artefact that helps give meaning to your life and act as the best voice for that internal yearning that you feel.

That is what happens when I listen to “In Blood Memory” and it is only in its infancy in terms of its release and the time I’ve spent with it. It is the right album for the space I find myself in at this current moment and regardless of what people believe or interpret as “being successful” I know within my own heart and from listening with my own ears that Jen Cloher has made a new modern classic that should be worshiped and ripped off by anyone and everyone looking to make a timeless piece of art.

2. “I See Seaweed” by The Drones

thedrones

I don’t think I could ever give a bad review to The Drones. I believe that it is impossible for me to ever find a fault with the music that this band makes. It is everything I love about rock n roll and they always explode all kinds of revolution when I listen to them. I don’t mean to sound crude or competitive or “well you just have no taste” but regardless of my “don’t get offended you fevered ego” plea you’re probably still going to take it wrong. Blah, fuck it, I’ll say it – I think The Drones make the entire modern legion of Straylian band’s sound redundant. If that modern legion was a food group they’d be the empty (and very dangerous) calories contained in fast food and The Drones would be a well prepared (possibly fully organic / potentially vegan) feast. You leave satisfied and content, not bloated and full.

Blah blah blah blah blah though, I don’t want to tangle this review up with paragraphs of why “sample a” is better than “sample b” because honestly it is none of my business what music people choose to like. My job is to review the new album from The Drones called “I See Seaweed” – so let me go from the a to the z of why this album is a brilliant piece of art.

Again, like all of the bands previous albums this record is an exercise in making sure that you listen without distraction. Clear your schedule, take the day off work and avoid a Friday / Saturday night of partying to stay inside glued to your headphones and this album. This is a journey album, you hang on every note and you go on the ride. There are some new cosmic touches that are added to the usual dust and crazy horse slacked out guitar noise. The music on “I See Seaweed” surrounds you, it engulfs your environment until you are in a cocoon of nightmarish divinity and stark late night highway swirls. There is a loneliness and spooky feel to it all and somewhere buried deep inside the stories being spun there is a real sense that loss has somehow themed these songs. I always get deeply moved at the way songs flirt with a sense of beauty but then before they get too refined and layered they rip themselves apart and become excursions into pure self-destruction and chaotic bliss. Over the course of eight tracks the band unfolds deep noise meditations that appeal to everything that aches within you. More aftermath than initial detonation, each track creeps then floats then elevates to a preacher screech and within seconds resurrects a haze of space that heightens the suspense and thrill of the chill. It rarely gives you a chance to remain grounded and you’ll unlock new levels of emotion and also wonder what the fuck just happened. Like a foreign injury, your heart and soul will never truly be the same again and when the noise settles and resolves the smile will return to your face. This becomes the moment that you understand the power of sound, more than before and you’ll mourn the fact that there isn’t enough time in your day to listen to this album on repeat. You’ll walk around your house searching for ways not to return to the album and try and throw yourself into something else but while you attempt to be still your mind will be humming every note inspiring you to boycott routine and return to the album, like a hit and run lover. You won’t get answers, only questions and that is what good rock n roll should do.

3. “She Beats” by Beaches

beaches

As an album “She Beats” is an extreme exercise in divinity and as the album stretches out you find yourself hypnotised by the messy swoony ached dynamics of each song and you just bliss the fuck out waiting for that late night breeze to save you from all of this despair. This is some truly stunning guitar noise and unlike the science of other current psyche rock humans this music is totally free with the improvised moment being the pivotal instrument in orchestrating such soul power.

Fuck, this is the band that should be worshiped instead of all of that indie hype machine psyche rock trash agenda being pushed by more popular outlets of radio and media. All of that hype machine psyche rock trash misses the soul power and BEACHES are way more fucking divine in the way they communicate musically that I find it difficult to put words to how beautiful it is.

Don’t waste time on the popular vote, invest now in BEACHES and do everything you can to source a copy of “She Beats” and make sure you fucking pay top dollar because BEACHES deserve all of your love and your money.

I may be late to the party but I’m sure as fuck not going to be leaving any time soon because BEACHES make the kind of noise that I love to get lost in.

4. “All Our Wires” by Seja

seja_all_our_wires_0513

I could listen to “All Our Wires” for days and believe me when I say that I have. There is a considerable amount of intensity swirling in and out of the sunshine pop. All of the songs carry those hits of late afternoon sun and surround you with their warmth. There is however a degree of emotional chaos inside the warmth and the album itself never lets you rest easy. This is clearly pop music made by a broken hearted human for other broken heart humans who at the best of times feel misunderstood by the world around them.  The sadness all throughout this record is overwhelming and the deep heavy ache that I hear in every song is a thing of beauty. There is no agenda to this music other than honestly expressing the rawness of being open to other humans in the hope of being loved back.

On “All Our Wires” SEJA opens herself up, as she always does, and shows a degree of vulnerability lyrically that allows you the listener to connect to these songs. Each song illustrates what a master communicator SEJA is as a creative human being and as I continually point out again and again, if you want to be an artist that connects with other humans you got to be a great communicator. Dynamically and Stylistically SEJA crafts a wonderful wall of mechanically aided landscapes through various keyboards and synths but although a large portion of her arsenal is of this nature musically there is a very human element to it and its warmth and sincerity is what allows for the mood of the album to build and rush in and out you, it’s a fucking thrilling experience.

The real highlight of this album though is the wonderful fifth track “Imaginations In Hyperspace” which is just such a right on piece of pop music. I’m fairly certain all of the other humans reading this will understand what I’m talking about when I say that I want to marry this song and live with it forever. There is nothing more amazing then when you have a song just hit you and it flows through every inch of you and heightens your emotions to a point where you feel this kind of yearning that almost makes you want to burst it hurts so much. That is the kind of song that “Imaginations In Hyperspace” is and it just takes me away man, far far far far away from the absolute chaos of this fucked up world and I love that, more than I love anything else in the world. To have a beautiful piece of music just transport me away like a fucking spaceship to some other dimension where I can breathe in something more beautiful than the mediocrity of this place called earth that I have to share with these animals known as humans is a healing experience indeed and “Imaginations In Hyperspace” provides this kind of escape. This is by far one of the most beautiful songs of 2013 and you’d be a fucking fool to ignore it.

At the end of the day that is what the whole album does to me, it just acts like fucking rocket ship that takes me so far away from myself and you have no idea how beautiful that feels as a human being who struggles to feel like they belong in this ocean of chaos known as life. That is the power of a great song and a great album and “All Our Wires” does that to me and then some.

Believe me when I say that your decade will be improved once you listen to the wonderful sound that is “All Our Wires” by SEJA who remains to be one hell of an amazing artist that deserves all of your time, money and love because we need her music in this world.

There is nothing more refreshing then hearing and feeling something this real, thank you SEJA for making a fantastic album with “All Our Wires,” you are a star.

5. “Winter Haunts” by The Rational Academy

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So what makes “Winter Haunts” so wonderful and important?

Well the easy answer is the great care that has gone into its creation but I reckon I need to go a bit deeper to sell you the spook. The music has a loose feel but there is also a strict pop discipline pulsating through every track. All of the musical experimentation and noise helps give context to the pop songs lurking underneath. It isn’t about showing off either skill, each song is a meeting place of extreme ideas condensed into smooth pop communications. You can tell that each band member is well versed in the history of music and the way it can influence your sonic dialogue. This is the album the band has been building too for their whole career and even though they have always been unique, the sounds that seduce you on “Winter Haunts” are their strongest yet. The album is a masterpiece of aches and shakes full of hypnotic swirls that take you away to landscapes of beauty and inter-dimensional time travel. This is inside music, to be consumed on your headphones alone, with the lights out as you contemplate every corner of your existence. As the title suggests it haunts and it is clearly coming from four haunted individuals who are collecting all of their internal worlds and through the power of music painting us a picture of their spooky shivers. This is indeed music for people who feel and who need to go deep when they invest in sound. There is not one bad moment contained throughout this album. To reduce it to even simpler terms, “Winter Haunts” gives me the same feeling that I get when I fall in love with a beautiful human being, that feverish feeling of being consumed with that famous Pisces prayer of “I love you so much, it makes me sick,” oh yes indeed you’ll crush hardcore on the sounds of this album.

So what the fuck are you waiting for, move, move, move and fucking buy this amazing piece of art and tell every single person you encounter about it.

6. “All Day Venus” by Adalita

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I cannot express enough just how majestic this record is.  Adalita Srsen is an achingly talented, beautiful musician.  From the opening strains of ‘Annihilate Baby’ through to the closing notes of ‘Rolled In Gold’, All Day Venus hit me in the gut and clawed at my heart.  The melodies, musicianship and songwriting take me back to a time before I started writing music myself; a time before I analysed songs and pulled them apart to figure out how they worked.  This is an album I just want to absorb in its entirety.

7. “Sounds From The Other Side” by Tumbleweed

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Look, I’m not going to dissect this album scientifically for you because it doesn’t deserve that. What this album deserves is for you to buy it, put it on your stereo and to turn it up very loud and let the worries of the world pass you buy. I know that in 2013 every one is busy talking about how great bands like Violent Soho, Dune Rats, Bleeding Knees Club, DZ Deathrays, John Steel Singers, Cloud Control and Tame Impala are at making alternative rock n roll that is linked to all things stoner, psyche, pop and rock. I just don’t have time for those bands because they just don’t have it, all of those bands are like a collective weak handshake compared to Tumbleweed.

Believe me when I say that Tumbleweed still have it and then some. On “Sounds From The Other Side” Tumbleweed prove that their return is not an exercise in Nostalgia, this is about the evolution of the riff and the evolution of all things great about psyche drenched rock n roll. From start to finish this album is a journey that showcases a band whose maturity has lead them to make a sound that is familiar yet still about pushing the boundaries of their original dynamics. This album is about the amazing chemistry that the original line-up of Tumbleweed had and still has; this is unfinished business and a totally mature take on the already flawless sound created by the band between 1990 and 1995.

There is a new progressive spirit rolling in and out of the mountainous riffage with more focus on the psychedelic side of things with Richie’s brilliant melodies giving so much beautiful emotional direction to the behemoth guitar riff orchestras on display. On top of the riffage there is an amazing swagger from the rhythm section with that beautiful Jay Curley Bottom End giving an ugly yet soulful intensity to the sludge of the guitars.

For a very long time I thought that “Mumbo Jumbo” represented the natural evolution of where Tumbleweed had to go as a band. After sitting through “Sounds From The Other Side” it has become quite clear that this is not the case because the music made by Tumbleweed circa 2013 is more intense, heavier, and weirder and covered in a hell of a lot more psyche and prog dynamics than Tumbleweed circa 2000. What “Sounds From The Other Side” represents is the natural evolution of the Tumbleweed sound circa 1995. Much like the re-united Dinosaur Jr whilst the band leans on the spirit of their formative years (1990 to 1995) the creative growth the band illustrated post Galactaphonic (Return To Earth and Mumbo Jumbo) is still on full display even though only three of the five members were present during this era.

Career Logistics aside, the main point to focus on is that this is not about Nostalgia and it is the first new steps of a new path for Tumbleweed. There were always going to be similarities stylistically to the bands older material but like Soundgarden did with King Animal, there is also a new mood for a new decade of progression. The importance of “Sounds From The Other Side” is in the fact that it re-establishes the band right back where it belongs, making incredibly vital alternative rock n roll.

As a fan of Tumbleweed I get chills every time I press play on this record. I am literally flawed with how brilliant the album is and I feel blessed to have Lenny, Jay, Steve, Paul and Richie back together making noise once again. When I first heard Tumbleweed, the term Stoner Rock was not something that existed in my vocabulary, but as the years progressed I started to understand that the love I started to have for “that sound” all started 18 years ago with Galactaphonic. In 2013 I feel like I’m a bit of a Stoner Rock fiend even though I hate the genre term myself but I guess I just love “that sound” which it’s attached to. To hear one of the pioneering bands of that sound making something so vital and so progressive in this current climate of mediocrity is so fucking refreshing.

I am in love with this album and I’m still discovering it which thrills me even more. There is longevity to this album and I feel like it will take me months to fully find all of the wonderful little nuances of each and every track. I may be a fan of lot of different genres of music but nothing gets me off like a really great rock record and “Sounds From The Other Side” is a fantastic and totally exquisite piece of rock n roll.

I can’t wait for the next ten years of Tumbleweed history, thank fuck they are back.

8. “Self-Titled” by Spiderbait

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I’ve found it hard to turn this album off because Spiderbait are incredibly smart with the way they weave pop skills in and out of their music. What really hit me about this album are some of the darker lyrical tones and themes of the record. I felt like I’ve possibly made this point about a lot of bands I’ve reviewed recently but there are some heavy themes of loss and musings on mortality on the brand new Spiderbait record. There are an incredible amount of references to escape and whether it is a heavy dose of fiction or a truthful tale of desire and need for disconnection remains to be seen. There are some truly beautiful moments that erupt as a result of this darkness and although it’s not a new dynamic within the sound of Spiderbait it certainly carries with it the wisdom of age and a maturity of humans who have collectively seen and felt a lot of varying emotions since we last heard from them.

Three songs in particular that demonstrate this darkness are the beautiful intergalactic space jam balladry of “Supersonic” the mournful funeral march sunshine of “Mars” and the kaleidoscopic simplicity of “Goodbye” all of which carry an angsty dirge and reflective pace. Whilst these songs are carefully placed within the brighter rock / pop tones of the rest of the album these are the songs that jumped out at me when I listened to the record as they carried with them a new kind of ache that I hadn’t heard inside the Spiderbait sound before. A terrible sense of loss radiates from these three songs with a heavy sense of sadness.

This mood infects the rest of the album in more subtle ways with lead single “Straight Through The Sun” carrying the same kind of angst but trades sadness for a middle finger and the freedom of saying “Fuck You” to the world around you and just going full speed ahead into the unknown. This punk rock gallop via Motorhead snarl is continued on album highlight “Miss The Boat” which is one of the best Spiderbait songs you’ll ever hear, just balls to the wall rock n roll goodness. To harp on an earlier point, I really must refer back to the brilliance of “Supersonic” which quite frankly is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It’s no secret how much I love the sound of Janet’s voice and the way she can spin all kinds of beauty with it. On “Supersonic” Janet is in fine form and showcases her flawless talent for being a pop singer with the vintage synth sound and Carole King AM frame of the song separating it as the best thing on this record and no doubt a future hit single.

There is so much I could say about the new “Self-Titled” Spiderbait album but I think the beauty of this record is that it opens up a new decade for the band. There is an incredible amount of evolution present on this album that will allow for another 20 years of music to be made. I love Spiderbait and once again they have proved that the importance to making timeless music is to dig deep into your soul and communicate honestly. The darkness of this record is what thrills me and whether or not the band are musing on loss related to death or just the turmoil of human relationships it suits the band and I look forward to this darkness being explored deeper on the next couple of records.

This is a flawless collection of pop music that bows down to the bliss of rock n roll fury and like all good music, takes you to some pretty intergalactic places when it’s just you  alone in your bedroom with your headphones and your thoughts.

9. “Hidden Horizons” by Ghost Notes

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All of the joy and disappointments pour out of these songs and the lack of vocals add to the intensity because you as the listener have full artistic license to dream up your own meanings and landscapes purely by digesting the emotional performances of each song.

The intense Australian sense of melancholy on display is in line with the stark yet beautiful ache illustrated by artists like Dirty Three and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. I also hear the yearning and swoony late night doom-jazz sounds of a band like Bohren & Der Club of Gore but I also wonder if a band like Boards of Canada didn’t also influence the direction of Ghost Notes sound. All of these comparisons aside, it is safe to say that even though I use the above mentioned bands as a way to compare it needs to be said that Ghost Notes truly have their own sound and “Hidden Horizons” is the perfect example of how unique this band is.

Look, you can be the kind of human who looks to impress other humans by remaining plugged into what hip modern culture sells you as art soaked independent music or you could actually really colour outside the lines and stand behind a band like Ghost Notes. You may not impress the hip modern vultures but you’ll at least have a pure heart and clean soul for rejecting the beige regime of people just playing “songs” and finally engage something truly unique, envelope pushing and genuinely emotional.  When I muse on the power and importance of Brisbane music bands like Ghost Notes are the ones I’m willing to stand behind and be proud to say are from the same music community that I participate in.

Ghost Notes are an absolutely fantastic bunch of humans making future music for those of us who desire something unique. Their brand new album “Hidden Horizons” is a flawless illustration of when art triumphs over commerce and that the most relevant, dangerous, experimental and emotional independent music is being made by the humans completely disconnected from the cocksucking thundercunts of that big indie dollar machine.

10. “This Is Not The End” by Baby Animals

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Suze DeMarchi has possibly the greatest female rock & roll voice of all time.

It’s an absolute pleasure to hear her in front of a virile, muscly rock & roll band again.  Sonically, not much has changed since 1991, DeMarchi is in phenomenal voice throughout the entire record, and the band sounds like the late 90′s and 00′s never even happened.  This is an unashamedly big, stadium rock record, full of Dave Leslie’s guitar solos, a rock-solid rhythm section, and that voice.

That voice also has a lot to say.  The album kicks off with lead single ‘Email’, a volatile stab of anger that sounds like it’s aimed squarely at DeMarchi’s ex-husband Nuno Bettencourt.  Real heartbreak and anger seem to be at the heart of the record, and this means that nothing comes across as manufactured or forced.  The end result is that in this day in age it sounds completely refreshing and new, even if the band is stuck in 1991.

11. “I’m A Bird” by Sam Buckingham

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I have loved listening to this album for the past week, fuck; it is so amazing that I find it hard to find the words to describe it. There is just an amazing quality to the songs and the tales being spun by Sam and the album has been birthed from an intense amount of heartbreak experience.

The other wonderful thing about “I’m A Bird” is the humour sprinkled across these heartbreak tunes. I love the beautiful cynicism of the lyrics, direct and cryptic but full of stories that you can tell were lived quite deeply by its author. I hope she fell in love with her muse after all the drama, I hope it was worth the fight because this album made me want to fall in love, with something, with someone. I found myself yearning for that youthful exchange of asking a human out for a coffee and that “whatever happens” adventure that can occur after that moment, you know where you summon the courage to steal a kiss or two. That is what this album inspires in me when I listen to it, the romantic and the need for a romantic connection with another human being.

I’m sure glad I discovered this album, because it has been the perfect late night soundtrack for standing on my back deck as I sip chai tea, smoke a cigarette and just indulge the silence of late night bliss.

Stay tuned for our Top Eleven Australian Singles / Ep’s of 2013

By: Dan Newton

All Reviews written by Dan Newton except “All Day Venus” by Adalita and “This Is Not The End” by Baby Animals which were written by Clint Morrow